Ever wondered why the Ballon d'Or podium is always chockablock full of Real Madrid and Barcelona stars? Is it because they have the best players in the world or is because they have the best lobbyists in the world?
According to Catalan newspaper Sport, the answer is very much the latter, especially with regards to Los Blancos.
They believe the powers that be at the Bernabeu have already set the wheels in motion ahead of the 2016 FIFA Gala, due to take place at FIFA's swanky Zurich headquarters in January. A team of people, who wield as much power off the football pitch as Real Madrid do on it, are making sure at least one of their players is on that podium.
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However, as the headline suggests, that player is not three-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo but their record signing Gareth Bale. President Florentino Perez is apparently working hard to make sure the Welshman wins the coveted Golden Ball next year, even if that means ruining Ronaldo's chances.
Ronaldo has placed in the top two of the award in each of the last eight seasons and looks set to feature again after scoring a rather incredible 48 goals for Real Madrid in the current campaign already. But if Perez has his way, Bale will be Real Madrid's main man.
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It has long been theorised that it pains Perez to see Ronaldo continue to succeed in the famous white shirt. He was, of course, signed in 2009 by his presidential predecessor Ramon Calderon and critics are quick to point out that the club's best player was not one brought in by Perez.
Bale, however, was meant to be Perez's answer to Calderon. Bale broke the world-record transfer fee when signing from Tottenham in 2013 but has failed to gazump the Portuguese stalwart thus far.
However, the 26-year-old has had possibly his best season in a Real Madrid shirt. While he may have only returned 19 goals thus far, he has developed a knack of making the difference in the biggest games.
He was the deciding factor as Real Madrid beat Manchester City this week, allowing them to reach their second Champions League final in two seasons.
The new king
Comparatively, Ronaldo has always been questioned in big games and does appear to try harder against the smaller teams, safe in the knowledge that he can fill his boots and bolster his goal stats.
Bale's performances so far have definitely given him a chance of at least making the podium. Another match-winning performance against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final and Ronaldo may have to admit that it is time to hand his crown over.
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