Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s football duopoly is coming to an end.
With Ronaldo turning 34 in February and Messi now 31, it’s only natural that their incredible ability starts to fade.
We’ve already seen the start of the end with Luka Modric claiming FIFA’s The Best award, while the Croatian is favourite for the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
The last player other than Messi and Ronaldo to have won the award was Kaka all the way back in 2008.
But with five Ballon d’Ors each and Modric set to get to get his hands on this year’s accolade, with the two superstars ever win it again?
Well, we can’t predict the future but Football Manager 2019 took matters into their own hands and attempted to find out.
The new game is released next week and Squawka simulated the next 10 years to discover the future Ballon d’Or winners.
Let’s take a look:
2018 | Neymar | Appearances: 24 | Goals: 14
With the game starting in June, anything that happened in real life earlier in the year is forgotten about.
That’s bad news for Modric who led Real Madrid to Champions League glory and helped Croatia reach the World Cup final.
Instead, Neymar picked up his maiden Ballon d’Or with an average rating of 7.92.
Gonzalo Higuain surprisingly finished second with Messi coming third.
2019 | Cristiano Ronaldo | Appearances: 51 | Goals: 27
Ronaldo claimed his sixth accolade at the age of 34, beating Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
2020 | Lionel Messi | Appearances: 41 | Goals: 22
Whatever Ronaldo can do, Messi can also do.
After not finishing in the top three in the previous year, Messi also won his sixth Ballon d'Or at 33.
Ronaldo, 35, came in second and Griezmann, once again, made the podium.
2021 | Kylian Mbappe | Appearances: 54 | Goals: 32
Mbappe wins his first Ballon d’Or at the age of 23, edging out Ronaldo who, at 36, is still going strong for Juventus.
Real Madrid’s Robert Lewandowski rounds off the top three.
2022 | Neymar | Appearances: 44 | Goals: 27
Four years after winning his first, Neymar picks up his second.
He would be 30 at this point at his career but, in the simulation, he’s still at PSG.
The Brazilian edged out Mbappe and a 30-year-old Mohamed Salah.
2023 | Jose Vicente (regen) | Appearances: 53 | Goals: 40
It’s time for a regen to win.
Manchester City signed the made-up Vicente for £78 million from Valencia and the 20-year-old is pretty good.
Mbappe had to settle for second again, while Vicente’s teammate, Bernardo Silva, finished third.
2024 | Kylian Mbappe | Appearances: 52 | Goals: 41
It’s the same top-two as the previous season but, this time, Mbappe wins his second Ballon d’Or while Vicente has to settle for second.
Once again, Salah - who is now 32 and still at Liverpool - finishes third.
2025 | Mohamed Salah | Appearances: 44 | Goals: 14
Remarkably, at the age of 33, Salah finally claims the Ballon d’Or.
Even more remarkable is the fact the Egyptian only managed 14 goals - although did rack up 30 assists.
And it’s a repeat of last season’s top-three with Mbappe in second and Vicente in third.
2026 | Kylian Mbappe | Appearances: 51 | Goals: 29
After six consecutive years in the top-two of the Ballon d’Or, Mbappe wins his third award at the age of 28.
Two new regens join him on the podium with Bayern Munich’s Angel Cortes and Chelsea’s David Butler.
2027 | Angel Cortes (regen) | Appearances: 45 | Goals: 42
Perhaps the biggest shock is that Mbappe doesn’t even make the top three. Instead, last season’s runner-up, Cortes, claims the award with a quite ridiculous goalscoring record.
Vicente appears once again while another regen - Andy Clarke - finishes third.
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