The usual suspects such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and others have been nominated, as well as Premier League stars such as Harry Kane, N’Golo Kante and Philippe Coutinho.
But who is the favourite?
Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Why he deserves to win it
Messi is the greatest player of all time, and is still performing to the peak of his powers at the age of 30.
There is not a record the Argentine superstar hasn’t broken. He is Barcelona’s all time record goalscorer, La Liga’s record goalscorer and has scored more goals in 2017 than anyone else in the top five major European Leagues with 45.
What makes Messi’s phenomenal goal-scoring exploits even more impressive, is the fact he is doing it without being an out-and-out striker. Messi is predominantly deployed on the right wing for Barcelona, with licence to roam and create havoc for the opposition.
Messi can score, create, dribble, pass, and pretty much everything else. There are no words left used to describe the sheer genius of Messi.
Why he doesn’t
If the award was given to the best player on the planet, Messi would win. However, it isn’t and club achievements go a long way to deciding who wins the Ballon d’Or.
Barcelona had a rather average campaign last season by their normally incredibly high standards. They failed to win either of the two major trophies, with arch rivals Real Madrid the La Liga and Champions League victors instead.
The Ballon d’Or has been a straight shoot out between Messi and Ronaldo for almost ten years, and with Ronaldo playing for Madrid, he is more likely to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.
Not only that, Messi’s Argentina have had a rotten World Cup qualifying campaign, and there is a very real chance they could miss out on the tournament altogether.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
Why he deserves to win it
With the personal accolade undoubtedly going to either Messi or Ronaldo, it is the latter’s club achievements in the past year that gives Ronaldo the advantage.
Real Madrid won La Liga and the Champions League, with the Portuguese superstar once again the main man for his side. Ronaldo’s goal-scoring exploits are just as incredible as Messi’s.
In 400 appearances for Real Madrid, he has scored a ridiculous 411 goals. This, similar to Messi, despite not being played as an out-and-out striker. Both he and Messi are levels above anyone else in the world right now, have been for a decade now.
Ronaldo may not have started this season on fire compared to normal, although he has still scored five goals in seven games, however his trophies and influence in winning them last season gives him the edge over anyone else.
Why he won’t win it
Rather than try to work out who is better out of Ronaldo and Messi, perhaps we should just enjoy them whilst they are still playing at the top of their game.
However, Messi is the only man stopping Ronaldo from winning the Ballon d’Or and has been the only player that has prevented Ronaldo from winning this accolade for the past ten years in a row. Ronaldo may have achieved more for his club in the last year, however there is a strong argument that the Ballon d’Or should simply go to the best player, in which case Messi would be the favourite.
Not only that, Ronaldo has started the season rather slowly compared to his usual blistering standards. He is already 11 goals behind Messi in the race for La Liga’s top goalscorer this season, whilst Madrid themselves are struggling in the league and are currently seven points behind Barcelona and Lionel Messi.
Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain
Why he will win it
Neymar is the only realistic candidate to eventually break the Messi and Ronaldo duopoly at the top of the football chain.
The Brazilian superstar became the world’s most expensive footballer of all time when he left Barcelona to join the Parisian giants for £196 million in the summer. There are widespread beliefs that Neymar left Barcelona to get away from Messi’s shadow and have a better chance of winning the Ballon d’Or, knowing he wouldn’t be able to whilst still playing as Messi’s team mate.
Neymar has begun life in France on fire with eight goals in his first eight games. It has at times looked far too easy for the Brazilian superstar in Ligue 1, and there is no doubt his signing has raised the already huge profile of PSG.
Why he won’t win it
It is a year too early for Neymar.
The Messi and Ronaldo tree is still impossible to climb up, however with both in their thirties and Neymar just entering the prime of his career, it is surely only a matter of time before Neymar becomes the first player since Kaka to win the award rather than Messi and Ronaldo.
For that to happen however, PSG must win Ligue 1, and possibly the Champions League with Neymar spearheading the revolution. With the World Cup next year as well, if Neymar can inspire Brazil to their sixth title, he would more than likely be the resounding favourite to win the Ballon d’Or next year.
The trophy will no doubt be won by either Messi or Ronaldo, however stars such as Luka Modric deserve a mention. He makes the Real Madrid midfield tick, with the Spanish giants a completely different side without the Croatian genius at the heartbeat.
N’Golo Kante has won two Premier League titles in a row, for two different clubs, and was arguably the star man in both triumphs, an achievement that shouldn’t go unnoticed in the reckoning.
Robert Lewandowski can’t do much more, with his goals helping Bayern Munich to yet another Bundesliga title whilst he was the catalyst behind Poland’s successful World Cup qualifying campaign with an incredible 16 goals, a new European record.
Harry Kane has scored 38 goals in 2017, with only Messi bettering that record whilst Paulo Dybala has been in electric form for Juventus with 12 goals in his opening ten games this season.
Sergio Ramos has been incredible at the back for Madrid yet again, and captained his side to La Liga and the Champions League last season.
However, as talented and worthy as these players are, for this year at least, no one is stopping Messi or Ronaldo from getting their hands on the trophy.
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