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Lionel Messi..

Lionel Messi names 3 players that can rival him and Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or

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When the curtains closed on the 2016-17 campaign, you'd be mistaken for thinking Cristiano Ronaldo had this year's Ballon d'Or sewn up, but Lionel Messi has given voters a serious dilemma.

While Ronaldo will likely remain the favourite come New Year, there's no debating who has emerged from the summer in better form and that player resides in Barcelona.

Messi has been handed a new lease of life in the false nine position that made him unstoppable under Pep Guardiola and already boasts 18 goals and four assists this season.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo has very much personified the difficult spell Real Madrid find themselves in right now.

Los Blancos are a distant ten points behind their fierce rivals in the La Liga standings and their star man - who started the season with a lengthly ban - has just one league goal to his name so far.

Even then, in terms of 2016-17, Messi was vindicated for his goal scoring exploits when he collected the European Golden Shoe this week as the continent's finest finisher.

It saw the 30-year-old appear in front of the press and although he refused to talk about his unexpectedly complicated future, he gave an intriguing interview to Marca.

He spoke about his relationship with Ronaldo and when asked whether he'll be friends with CR7 in the future, he hypothesised: "I don't know if we will be. Friendship is built through spending time together and getting to know eachother.

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"We have no relationship. Everything is fine, but our lives don't cross over very often."

Both Messi and Ronaldo continue to prove themselves as the best two players in the world, but the time will come when somebody ends their epoch of dominance in the Ballon d'Or.

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly who that will be but Messi has three players in mind.

When asked about the Ballon d'Or and its future, he expounded: "There are many great players around today who can win the Ballon d'Or. In recent years there have just been two, but now players like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Luis Suarez can compete for that award."

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So yes, Messi opted for the other two members of the ruthless 'MSN' strike force that graced the Nou Camp between 2014 and 2017 but Mbappe also wiggles his way into the top three.

Only time will tell as to whether the Barcelona star is correct yet, for the sake of a certain £199 million gamble, you'd like to hope one member of that trio pulls it off.

Who do you think will break Ronaldo and Messi's dominance? Have your say in the comments section below.

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