The legendary Barcelona striker is in a close competition with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer for the coveted FIFA award, to be given early next year.
Zanetti feels that Messi is the best player on the planet and deserves the coveted prize for a record fifth time, while he also acknowledged German World Cup winners Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer.
“I’m hoping that Messi wins it; he’s a true great,” Zanetti told FIFA.com.
“He never stops surprising people; at any given moment he’s capable of improvising with a touch of skill or something spectacular that can win you a game.
“In my view, he’s the best player in the world.
“The guys who play in midfield and up front are the ones who decide games. That said, Philipp Lahm also deserved major recognition. I expect the voting to be very fiercely contested, and Neuer certainly deserves to be in the mix too.”
Zanetti then backed Atletico Madrid Diego Simeone for the FIFA coach of the year award.
“El Cholo [Simeone] was always like a coach even in his playing days,” said Zanetti.
“I’m not surprised by what he has achieved, which has come on the back of sacrifice and hard work.
“With respect to [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Joachim] Loew, I think that he’s done enough with Atletico Madrid to take home the top prize.”
Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or a record four straight times between 2009 and 2012 and captained his country to the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals this summer, when they lost to Germany.