Giorgio Chiellini claims Real Madrid stopped Cristiano Ronaldo winning Ballon d'Or last year

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As Lionel Messi claimed his sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday night, Cristiano Ronaldo was nowhere to be seen.

This was a Golden Ball of particular significance for the Argentine, as it means he moves one clear of his eternal rival. 

Safe in the knowledge that if Messi didn't win, the award would go to Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk, Ronaldo instead opted to make a brief appearance at the Serie A awards. 

The Portuguese was named the league's Most Valuable Player to add another trophy to his haul of individual accolades.  

For a player who has always strived to be the best in the world, however, that will pale in comparison to what Messi has just achieved. 

Ronaldo has now missed out on the Ballon d'Or two years in a row, with Luka Modric being crowned in 2018. 

Even a year on, that decision is still not going down well among his teammates, with Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini now claiming Modric only won because Real Madrid made sure the forward couldn't win. 

 “Ronaldo was really robbed of the Ballon d’Or last season, when Real Madrid decided to make sure he couldn’t win it and that was really weird," he told Sky Italia. 

“This season, it was more balanced. With all due respect, Modric even in his best season of his career didn’t deserve it. That was a signal from Real Madrid, as they wanted to stop Ronaldo winning it.

“He won the Champions League, but by that logic, Van Dijk should’ve won it this year, or last year (Antoine) Griezmann, (Paul) Pogba or (Kylian) Mbappe for doing extraordinary things at the World Cup. Modric made no sense.”

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Modric's triumph was met with plenty of raised eyebrows, though that was largely because Messi only came fifth in the standings. 

Nonetheless, it's a huge claim from Chiellini to suggest that Real have such influence over the Ballon d'Or awards. 

Despite being arguably the greatest player in their history, Ronaldo's relationship with his former club is now fractured. 

That said, his relationship with his current one isn't exactly flourishing right now either amid reports of an ongoing rift with manager Maurizio Sarri. 

The 34-year-old has only scored six league goals in an injury-hit season, which are uncharacteristically low stats for him. 

On current evidence, it looks like his Ballon d'Or winning days could well be over. 

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