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Ronaldo/Messi Ballon d'Or successors beyond Neymar

Thursday 2nd November 2017
For the last decade, only two players have won whatever you like to call the Ballon d'Or. One has been anointed their successor. Are there other candidates?

It all started in 2008. During his final season at Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo helped the team to a Premier and Champions League double, scoring 42 goals. Deservedly, he was named world's best player, the first player from the English top flight to achieve the feat.

Following FIFA and France Football's top player awards temporarily merging into one Ballon d' Or, the Portuguese and his rival, Lionel Messi, have been its exclusive recipients. The Argentine won it from 2009-11, the first to be honoured for three consecutive years.
The two great football stars' dominance has been so pronounced that it has been 10 years since another person won the coveted award. Messi has now won it a record five times whereas Ronaldo has claimed three of the last four. During this time, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Neymar, Sergio Aguero, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta have all failed to dethrone the Real Madrid and Barcelona superstars.

However, their dominance cannot last. Believe it or not, both Messi and Ronaldo are mortal human beings. At 30 and 32 respectively, they are gradually moving towards the twilight of their careers. It won't take long before their duopoly is broken.

In that light, let's look at five players capable of doing so.

Marco Asensio, Real Madrid/Spain

Just 21, the Spaniard might need Leo and CR7 to hold on for another year or two if he is going to usher in the new generation. Already, though, Asensio has given Zinedine Zidane every reason to make him a first-team player at the Santiago Bernabeu. His left foot is a danger when it comes to scoring goals. He scored the fourth and final goal in Real Madrid's Champions League Final last season. One can't forget his goal against Barca in this summer's Spanish Super Cup. He has what it takes to clinch the Ballon d'Or one day.

Eden Hazard, Chelsea/Beligium

After a temporary slip in form in 2016, the Chelsea star is back on stride. The 26-year-old was instrumental to the London club winning the league title in 2014-15. The Belgian's poor 2015-16 has proved an aberration. He was again critical to the Blues claiming a second Premier League title in three seasons. His performances see him continuously linked with a move to Real Madrid. He remains a good candidate for the Ballon d'Or in the near future.

Harry Kane, Tottenham/England

The Englishman is the most viable England international to break Messi and Ronaldo's duopoly. A dangerous threat in attack, he was the Premier League's top scorer last season. In fact, it was his second Golden Boot on the trot and he has only Messi ahead of him in goals scored at club level in 2017.

His eight goals in the Premier League give him a good start on his third Golden Boot, mimicking Messi's Ballon d'Or run. He has the attributes to become a superstar, if you think he isn't quite yet.

Perhaps unfairly, he needs Tottenham to start winning trophies before he is counted among the elite.

Kylian Mbappe, PSG/France

Mbappe took the football world by storm last season at Monaco and the youngster could become the second most expensive teenager in the world if PSG is permitted to make his loan to the club permanent next summer. His 26 goals helped les Monagasques to the Ligue 1 title and a Champions League semifinal. Before PSG landed him, several big European clubs, most notably Barcelona and Real Madrid, were chasing his signature in the summer. Although he has struggled recently, Mbappe hit the ground running in Paris. He is a strong candidate for top player awards in coming years.

Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid/France

The France international came third behind Messi for the Ballon d'Or last year. He aided Atletico's run to the Champions League final last year and was a key figure in the French team that reached the Euro ‘16 title match, as well.

Griezmann has the pace, skill, and ability to displace both Messi and Ronaldo at world football's peak.
Aje Omolayo

I like to think of myself as an easy going lover of all things football, however, I do class myself as a die-hard Arsenal fan but I'm not biased enough to view life at the Emirates through rose-tinted spectacles and can appreciate when we are beaten by the better team on the day.

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