On Monday, Lionel Messi won the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or award – an achievement that means he has now been crowned as the best player on the planet a record five times.
Without a doubt, Messi will go down as one of the all-time greats but so will runner up Cristiano Ronaldo, who also has three Ballon d’Or successes to his name. Can Lionel Messi win the award in 2016 or will rival Ronaldo topple him? We take a look at their chances whilst also considering whether third-placed Neymar also stands a chance.
It’s now got to that stage where people are running out of words to describe Lionel Messi. The Argentina captain has been instrumental for both club and country in the past decade and, at just 28 years old, that could continue for the foreseeable future – much to the dismay of defenders across Europe.
Messi has masterminded an era of Barcelona dominance and the star has been central to their two treble-winning seasons. He is simply sublime and is already the leading contender for the award with most bookmakers in their football betting odds. It would take a brave man to back against the Barca forward winning the award again in 2016.
In 2015, Messi was back to his brilliant best and inspired Barcelona to the treble – their second in six years. The forward, along with Neymar and Luis Suarez, terrorised opposing defenders and enjoyed plenty of success throughout the campaign. “MSN” actually finished the calendar year with 137 goals – an astonishing figure.
Because of that, Messi may have to watch out for his Barcelona team-mates in the Ballon d’Or next season. Neymar has matured into one of the top players on the planet and will push Messi close if he performs at his very best. Meanwhile, Suarez is also profiting at Barcelona and is now scoring on an almost weekly basis.
However, the main threat will once again come from Cristiano Ronaldo. 2015 just wasn’t Real Madrid’s year but they could bounce back with Zinedine Zidane at the helm. Both Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez failed to control the key personalities at the Santiago Bernabeu and lost their jobs after lacklustre results on the pitch.
Despite this, Ronaldo got on with his football and still enjoyed a relatively successful season. By anyone else’s standards, he had a great season but Ronaldo himself knows that 2015 wasn’t his year – even though he scored 66 goals in 58 games.
The Portuguese star could bounce back in 2016 though and could lead Real to the Champions League crown. Punters looking for Real Madrid and Ronaldo-related markets can scout the latest odds here. It’s very difficult to pick a winner but Ronaldo will be desperate for success as he continues to age on the wrong side of 30.
So, who will come out on top? Well, that’s anybody’s guess. Messi has years ahead of him and it wouldn’t be ridiculous to say that he could go on and win a sixth, seventh or even an eighth Ballon d’Or crown. However, Ronaldo strives to succeed on a daily basis and his hunger for individual recognition stands him in good stead to win the award. One thing’s for sure: neutrals should feel blessed to watch both... they won’t be around forever.