When Lionel Messi won his fourth Ballon d’Or in January 2013, it seemed inconceivable that Cristiano Ronaldo would ever equal that tally - let alone surpass it.
The Portuguese superstar was scoring goals for fun but Barcelona had a better team than Real Madrid and dominated Spanish and European football with Pep Guardiola at the helm.
However, almost five years later and both players, remarkably, now have five Ballon d’Or awards apiece.
Ronaldo has now won four of the previous five Ballons d’Or, adding his latest to his trophy cabinet after being handed the prestigious individual accolade in Paris on Thursday evening.
It’s a truly remarkable achievement from the 32-year-old, who secured 946 points in the voting. Messi sealed second place with 670 points, while Neymar came in third with 361.
Ronaldo was expected to win the 2017 Ballon d’Or after Madrid won both La Liga and the Champions League at the end of last season.
Messi has scored more goals and provided more assists than his Los Blancos over the calendar year, however, and there are a significant number of football fans who believe the Argentine has been the most outstanding player - on an individual level - throughout 2017.
The 30-year-old scored one of Barça’s three goals against Alaves in the Copa del Rey final, netted the winning goal in arguably the best Clasico of the modern era at the Bernabeu and recently bagged a hat-trick to drag Argentina through to the 2018 World Cup finals.
Messi fans are retweeting Pique's tweet from 2016
To express their disappointment at the outcome of the latest Ballon d’Or ceremony, some Messi fans are retweeting a controversial tweet posted by Gerard Pique last November.
“If the Golden Ball [was for] the best player in the world, Leo would it have won every year since 2009,” Pique tweeted. “Another level.”
The Barcelona defender’s tweet has racked up a lot more retweets and ‘likes’ over the past 24 hours.
Pique is in a good position to judge Ronaldo and Messi
Pique, in fairness, is in a pretty strong position to judge both Messi and Ronaldo - even though he’s obviously more biased towards his current teammate.
The centre-back briefly played alongside Ronaldo at Manchester United and has competed against the world-class forward on countless occasions over the past eight years.
But in his view, Messi is the far superior footballer.
“I play with Leo Messi and he is not from this planet!” Pique said back in 2012. “Cristiano Ronaldo might be the best player in the world, but only among humans.”
Did Messi deserve to win the 2017 Ballon d’Or - or is Ronaldo a worthy winner? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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