There are a few players in modern football who are completely unafraid of speaking their mind, and one of those is Barcelona stalwart Gerard Pique.
His hatred for Real Madrid, which has seen him booed at grounds around Spain, knows no bounds, so there’ll undoubtedly be a bitter taste in his mouth after they dethroned his side as champions on Sunday.
Pique’s good friend Lionel Messi and Real’s main man Cristiano Ronaldo have created somewhat of a monopoly over the Ballon d’Or, having won it the past nine years between them.
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In a revealing interview with Premium Sport of Mediaset Italia yesterday, Pique named the player who he feels deserves to win the prestigious award for 2017.
He insisted that Messi, who finished as La Liga’s top scorer with 37 goals from just 34 games, is “the best player in the world and history”, but who is his pick for this year’s Ballon d’Or?
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Pique’s pick for 2017 Ballon d’Or
The European Championship and World Cup winning Spaniard said, via 101greatgoals: “This year, he (Messi) will win the Golden Boot as top scorer and deserves the Golden Ball again.
“But if you look at the trophies, (Gianluigi) Buffon has won the Scudetto (Serie A), the Italian Coppa and can still win the Champions League.
“He deserves it for his career and also for this season. And it would be good to give the Golden Ball to another goalkeeper after (Lev) Yashin.”
Could Buffon really win it?
So, Pique thinks the iconic Juventus and Italy captain should win the next Ballon d’Or, and that would be a quite incredible feat seeing as he isn’t an attacking player.
Yashin is the only 'keeper to ever win the award, and the closest in recent memory was Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, who finished third in 2014 (behind Messi and Ronaldo).
Buffon has racked up 42 appearances in all competitions for the Old Lady this season, keeping 12 clean sheets in Serie A and continuing to produce impressive saves at the age of 39.
Pique on Real v Juve
While Barca prepare for a Copa del Rey final against Alaves, arch rivals Real will be preparing for the Champions League final clash with Juve, which probably represents Buffon’s third and final chance to win the trophy which has alluded him in his entire career.
When asked for his thoughts concerning the favourites and who will win in Cardiff on June 3, Pique said: “It will be a very close match between two great teams.
“Although we (Barca) were able to defeat him in the final of 2015, Juventus is a team that has been doing well for several years and is among the best clubs of Europe, with great players.
“Like Buffon, who really wants to win this trophy for the first time, or Dani Alves, who was our partner and would be well to win, but it will be a final that can win either (team)."
The 30-year-old added: “How do you win at (against) Madrid? We won in the Bernabeu, taking possession of the ball and trying to stop their counter-attack.”
Do YOU agree with Pique? Who do YOU think deserves the 2017 Ballon d'Or at this early stage? Leave YOUR opinion in the comments box below!
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