Ballon d’Or 2017: Possible top 5

Ballon d’Or has been dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the better part of the decade and such has been their rivalry that the prestigious award is now considered one of the defining awards in a footballer’s career.

Currently, it is Messi who has a slight edge over his Portuguese rival, having won the award on five occasions to Ronaldo’s four. However, with Ronaldo playing a key role in Real Madrid’s double winning campaign last season, it can all change come the end of the year.Here we look at the 5 leading contenders for the prestigious award handed out by France Football.

5. Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe is the left-field entry in the running for this year’s Ballon d’Or award, having played a pivotal role in helping AS Monaco usurp the monopoly of Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, as the Stade Louis II outfit won the French league title for the first time in 17 years. Not only did the 18-year-old help his side in the domestic league, he also played a key role in Leonardo Jardim’s side reaching the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League, where they were only just bettered by Juventus.

4. Neymar

In recent weeks, Neymar’s future has been the topic of many a debates.
Such is the obsession of the Ballon d’Or in Brazil, that it is being reported that Neymar is considering a shock move away from Barcelona only to fulfil his dream of winning the coveted prize.
In recent weeks, Neymar’s future has been the topic of many a debates across boardrooms, pubs and what not. It is believed that Paris Saint-Germain are willing to activate the enormous €222m buyout clause in the Brazilian’s contract to help him move away from the shadows of Lionel Messi.According to one news outlet, the 25-year-old’s close ones believe he can never realize his true potential and be considered the best in the world if he continues at Camp Nou, where Messi is already the best player. Whether Neymar moves to PSG or not, we will have to wait and watch but that doesn’t mean that he is not in the reckoning for the Ballon d’Or this year.Barcelona had a rather dismal campaign last season, with Neymar, in particular, struggling for goals in patches. Despite that, the Brazilian managed to notch up 20 goals coupled with 27 assists and is currently in 4th place in the reckoning for Ballon d’Or.

3. Gianluigi Buffon

There has been only one instance of a goalkeeper winning the Ballon d’Or, way back in 1963, when the legendary ‘Black Spider’ – Russia’s Lev Yashin – was crowned the best footballer on the planet.
Ever since, only a handful of goalkeepers have managed to finish on the podium of the Ballon d’Or, namely – Oliver Kahn, Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuter. Just before the UEFA Champions League final, there was a debate that had gripped the footballing fraternity, one which had a fairy-tale ending to the illustrious career of one of the game’s greatest. Yes, people were contemplating if Buffon will be in pole position to win the award, should he help his team – and himself – win the coveted trophy.Albeit, that did not happen, as Real Madrid ran riot against Juventus and ended up winning the encounter 4-1. With that loss came to an end, not only the hopes of Buffon winning that elusive Champions League title but also, it dented the hopes of him becoming the first modern day goalkeeper to be endowed with the prestigious award.

2. Lionel Messi

The 30-year-old will once again be gearing up to help his team challenge for top honours
The 30-year-old will once again be gearing up to help his team challenge for top honours
Lionel Messi may have had a brilliant season on an individual level but he failed to guide his team to UEFA Champions League glory or La Liga honours, and given the fact that despite the importance given to an individual award like Ballon d’Or in today’s world, football remains a team sport and hence, the Argentine is not the favourite to create history by winning the award for a 6th time.
The 30-year-old notched up insane numbers, scoring 54 goals, while assisting another 19 across all competitions last season. But even the best player is only as good as his team, and while Messi reaped the benefits of this in early stages of his career, he has been at a disadvantage because of it in recent times – two sides of the coin, eh?The 30-year-old will once again be gearing up to help his team challenge for top honours and with the season kicking off in a few days time, he will be raring to go. For now, he is currently 2nd on our list to win the Ballon d’Or.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese just doesn’t know what it is to slow down, he keeps improving, keeps showing up in the big games, scoring vital goals and helping Real Madrid scale new heights.
Ronaldo played a key role as Zinedine Zidane’s side became the first team in the Champions League era to win successive titles, while also ending their La Liga trophy drought by winning the league title for the first time since 2011/12.The 32-year-old had an incredible season too, scoring 42 goals in 46 appearances, while also assisting a further 12 times. Ronaldo is currently the favourite to win Ballon d’Or come the end of the year, which will be the 5th time he has been endowed with the prestigious award. Not only that, it will help him tie arch-rival Lionel Messi, who currently has a slender advantage having won the award once more than the Portuguese.