Behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, many would label Antoine Griezmann as the third best player in the world.
The Atletico Madrid star has risen to the fore in 2016, scoring 35 goals in 59 appearances in what has been a glittering year the 25-year-old.
The Frenchman has been unable to speak of any silverware among his list of achievements but that doesn’t take anything aware from his individual success.
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Goal ranked him third in their list of the 50 best players in the world, behind Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, but it surely won’t be long before he cracks the top two.
Griezmann is likely to fall short in the voting for the 2016 Ballon d’Or. Had he been able to win Euro 2016 with France, instead of finishing runner-up to Ronaldo’s Portugal, or been able to prevent Atleti losing two of their last nine games to miss out on the La Liga title, the odds on him winning the individual accolade would be much shorter.
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But to his credit, Griezmann has stayed remarkably humble despite the near-misses. He acknowledges that Messi and Ronaldo are the best in the world and is hoping to become the best player in the world by 2018.
Griezmann named his three stars of 2016
The France star was asked to name the three best players in 2016 by Goal, and, behind Ronaldo and Messi, his third choice was pretty surprising.
“Cristiano Ronaldo first, as he’s won two titles, then Lionel Messi because he’s unique and after that maybe Jamie Vardy for winning the English title with Leicester,” he told Goal.
Vardy was terrific for the Foxes last season but the goals have dried up; he's scored three times in all competitions this season and hasn't found the net in over two months.
Griezmann continued: “Ronaldo and Messi are two monsters, two legends. In 10 years, the world will say that no-one will ever be able to equal them.
"I’m going to try and get as close as possible and to continue to raise my level each year to become the best player possible.”
Leicester's incredible triumph
Griezmann reserved special praise for Vardy’s manager, Claudio Ranieri, too, when he was asked to name the best managers of the year.
“My two coaches: Diego Simeone and Didier Deschamps. After them, Claudio Ranieri for his work at Leicester.
“Leicester’s title was unexpected, especially against teams like Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool. It’s something incredible that they won the championship.”