Having seen the nomination list for Ballon d’or dominated by two super-beings, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, for a couple of years, one has to ponder if we are running out of quality footballers.

Until the moment Lionel Messi stepped up on to the podium to receive his second Ballon d'or, no player had managed to win it twice in a row in over a decade. 

The previous double-winner was Brazilian legend Ronaldo; before him we would have to go all the way back to 1992 to see Marco Van Basten.

So have we run out of heavyweights or has Ronaldo and Messi taken the game to a whole new level?

The early 2000s had a plethora of legends playing in every league with Serie A being a heavy contributor.

Currently, only Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo are among the few maestro midfielders one could bet people would remember in 20 years from now while Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Pavel Nedved, Ryan Giggs and Francesco Totti make a pretty healthy list. 

Amongst the current crop of strikers Messi, Ronaldo along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robin Van Persie and Luis Suarez can stake the claim assuming that the latter two would perform in a similar fashion for another couple of season. 

But pit them against Raul, Samuel Et’o, Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Alessandro Del Piero and Andriy Shevchenko who were consistent top performers and you would find yourself going weak. 

Defenders have a similar case with Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos and Philipp Lahm representing the best the current football world can offer. 

Lahm is not worth his salt when compared to Roberto Carlos, Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Javier Zanetti and Fabio Cannavaro.

One also has to look at the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Kaka, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Ballack and perhaps Patrick Vieira who were formidable forces at the middle of the decade and had their influence dwindle as the years continued. 

The rise of Spain and the mercenary obsession has meant many players spend their days slumped on benches instead of plying their trade in other leagues. 

The Italian match-fixing scandal has no doubt hurt football in a manner that cannot be gauged. The Serie A that used to be the host to the premier talent now has a less than a glittering fleet to offer.

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