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Cristiano Ronaldo..

The Sun said these 11 players would win the Ballon d'Or after Ronaldo and Messi

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The Ballon d'Or has been nothing short of a two horse race for the past decade with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi exchanging the prestigious award almost annually.

Since Ricardo Kaka conceded the accolade he collected in 2007, the Real Madrid and Barcelona superstars have reached a league of their own and both boast persuasive cases as the GOAT.

Furthermore, almost poetically, it seems that this year's award will fall into the hands of Ronaldo, drawing him level with Messi at five golden footballs apiece. Just perfect, isn't it?

Believe it or not, though, the day will eventually come when a new superstar will collect the award and end the Ronaldo-Messi era of dominance.

Last December, The Sun and Dream Team attempted to predict just who will inherit the mantle and drew up 11 players they thought will 'definitely win' the Ballon d'Or during their career. Some of the choices are as bold as the statement itself, that's for sure.

Check out the 11 'stars' they put forward:

1 | Paul Pogba

This is a debatable one, that's for sure. Pogba looked to have finally settled into his United return this season before a hamstring injury cut his purple patch short.

The Frenchman still has a long way to go to become the world's finest midfielder, never mind player but the talent is certainly there for the former.

Manchester United v FC Basel - UEFA Champions League

2 | Raphael Varane

Call it unfair until you're blue in the face but the bottom line is that centre-backs simply don't collect these kind of awards. Fabio Cannavaro is the only man to do so since 1972, so unless Varane can improve astronomically in the coming seasons, he has fat chance.

3 | Douglas Costa

A player who held no shortage of promise but his big break with Bayern Munich left a lot to be desired. Thrown an olive branch via a loan to Juventus, Costa will be too busy focusing on making the starting XI as opposed to a Ballon d'Or.

US Sassuolo v Juventus - Serie A

4 | Martin Odegaard

To say an 18-year-old will 'definitely' win the Ballon d'Or during his career is pretty bold but Odegaard has the best chance out of most players his age.

Only time will tell but a Real Madrid career that looked dead in the water appears to be back in business after an impressive upsurge in form for Norway and Heerenveen.

5 | Gabriel Barbosa

Dubbed the next Ronaldo and Neymar, Barbosa was on a roll in Brazilian football yet the transition to Europe has been a harsh learning curve. Mediocre performances for Inter Milan and Benfica will do little to earn him the 'most improved' trophy.

FC Internazionale v Pescara Calcio - Serie A

6 | Paulo Dybala

Since The Sun nominated the Argentine as one of their 11 players, Dybala has come on leaps and bounds with Juventus.

The forward was linked with a move to Barcelona and, with talent in abundance, more than earns himself a place on this list as Messi's heir if nothing else.

7 | Gareth Bale

Already creeping towards his thirties, Bale will need Messi and Ronaldo to retire any moment now for him to launch a tangible claim upon the Ballon d'Or. It's been a tale of inconsistency since his first season in Spain and his fitness is quick to kill off any upturns in form.

Real Madrid v Levante - La Liga

8 | Youri Tielemans

Everybody's go-to player on Football Manager and FIFA career mode, Tielemans' move to Monaco this summer will be the true test of his ability. Watch this space.

9 | Kingsley Coman

Having played for Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich already at age 21, it would be easy to think Coman is the next best thing in world football.

The bottom line, though, is that the Frenchman has done nothing but wither when the spotlight has been cast upon him. Good player, but not a great one.

FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-HERTHA BERLIN-BAYERN MUNICH

10 | Neymar

Spot on. One of the biggest motivations behind Neymar's mammoth £198 million move to PSG this summer was his desire to impress as an individual and win such awards. It's hard to see the Brazilian going his whole career without a Ballon d'Or.

11 | Dele Alli

The Sun closing on some rather hopeful domestic optimism, here. Alli will need to impress on the international stage to cement any potential claim and, besides, it seems Harry Kane has the more promising bid at the moment.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League

Who do you think will be first player to win the Ballon d'Or after Ronaldo and Messi? Have your say in the comments section below.

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Topics:
Football
Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo

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