Doha - FC Bayern München head coach Pep Guardiola has told Manuel Neuer to savour the moment regardless of the outcome of Monday's FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala in Switzerland.
'I hope Manu wins'
The 28-year-old shot-stopper will take a break from the Bavarians' winter training camp
to attend the prize ceremony in Zurich, where either he, last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF) or FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi will be crowned the World's Best Footballer for 2014.
"Manu should be very proud of himself because it's a massive achievement to be one of the best three players in the world," Guardiola explained. "He's already a winner […] My advice to Manuel is the same as I gave Franck [Ribery] a year ago: go there and enjoy yourself. Don't bother thinking about whether you're going to win or not. If you win it's good, and if not, that's good as well. All three are great players and all three deserve the award. I hope Manu wins the Ballon d'Or though." Despite receiving his fair share of high-profile endorsements of late, Neuer will be acutely aware that such praise has little bearing on the eventual result, particularly after Bayern team-mate Ribery
on the back of a similarly superlative year 12 months ago. The Frenchman doesn't see any reason, though, why 'Supermanu' shouldn't go one better tomorrow night: "He's the best keeper in the world, has won lots of titles and is a World Champion! What more can he do?"
Hoping to rejoin the all-star cast, meanwhile, is luckless defender
. The 25-year-old Germany international recently returned to training after rupturing a tendon in his thigh in September, at the time having only just worked his way back to full fitness following a 20-month injury lay-off.
"It's been a hard slog," he admitted. "I was heading in the right direction back in August, September, and I want to show it was no fluke and keep on improving. I want to reach the level where I personally see myself as being […] I'm really enjoying being back and simply looking forward to being on the move with the team again. But I've learned a lot about patience. I won't rush."
preparations received a further boost on Sunday as
stepped out for team training following a stomach bug, while
(cold) completed an individual session without any hiccups. The Bundesliga leaders are set to play their first friendly of the year against Qatar Stars on 13 January (kick-off 20:05 local time).