Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player in the world last season, according to former Manchester City star Micah Richards - but Gareth Bale remains the finest the right-back ever faced.
The former England international, who brought down the curtain on a career that saw him lift the Premier League and FA Cup with the Citizens with his retirement in July.
The 31-year-old, who came through the youth ranks at the Etihad Stadium and turned professional for them in 2005, was in Dubai on a goodwill tour with the latest top-flight crown won by Pep Guardiola's side, following the conclusion of his on-field career with Aston Villa.
Juventus star and five-time winner Ronaldo is one of three players nominated and could move ahead of fellow contender Lionel Messi with a record sixth win, while Virgil Van Dijk rounds out the shortlist.
Richards feels that the Portugal man is most deserving for his efforts at the international level, having skippered them to a maiden Nations League title, but noted that the other nominees were all fine choices.
"I think Ronaldo is the best this year because what he did for his country was amazing," he told Goal. "He and Messi are unbelievable, Van Dijk also was good but what Messi and Ronaldo doing is amazing."
However, despite having crossed swords with Ronaldo during his Manchester United days, Richards does not rate him as his toughest opponent, instead singling out Wales international Bale as the hardest man he faced in his career.
"For me, it's Gareth Bale," he added. "When he was in Tottenham he was a top player and [he] still [is]. Me and him used to have one-on-one battles".
In addition, Richards backed one-time Fiorentina team-mate and current Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah to continue his fine form as a player at the peak of his powers under Jurgen Klopp, adding: "Salah is my friend, He is a top player.
"I think he will continue for more years. I played with him in Fiorentina and he was doing the same then,.For me I think he will be better and better and it's good that he has a manager who believes in him."
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