The Ballon d'Or. One of the few awards that'll have the best players in world football all gathering together under one roof.
Of course, the prestigious award has been dominated by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the last decade, but in recent years, we've started to see a changing of the guard.
Luka Modric broke the trend when he won it in 2018 following a stellar World Cup campaign, and even if Messi was crowned the winner in 2019, this year looked as though it could have had a new name.
That's because many had tipped Robert Lewandowski to come away with the crown - that was before the ceremony was cancelled. The Polish striker was in supreme form for Bayern Munich last year, helping them to a treble of major trophies that also included the Champions League.
Only time will tell if he'll get the chance to win it next year, but he's already hit the back of the net on five occasions this season so he stands a very good chance of doing so.
What happens once the big names of football retire remains to be seen. Messi and Ronaldo can't keep playing forever so it'll be up to the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Erling Haaland to try and win the trophy for a first time.
Fortunately, a little experiment has taken place to help us understand who might be in with a shout of winning it.
That comes courtesy of YouTube gamer BCHDGaming who simulated 15 years of FIFA 21 career mode to see who would be crowned the next Ballon d'Or winners.
Here are the results...
The nominees: Ronaldo, Lewandowski, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane
FIFA 21 does a pretty realistic job of matching up how those performed over the course of the current year. The widely-tipped winner Lewandowski is on the shortlist, while the likes of Salah and Mane are in there for their outstanding contributions during Liverpool's Premier League title win. However, none of them come out on top, being usurped by Ronaldo who won his sixth Ballon d'Or and his first since 2017.
The winner: Ronaldo
The nominees: Neymar, Mbappe, Raheem Sterling and Messi
There is no place for last year's winner, Ronaldo, on this list but we do see the first appearance for the likes of Neymar and Mbappe. With the pair of them in contention, we can only assume that PSG went far in Europe that year. Sterling's inclusion is an interesting one too, beating the aforementioned Liverpool duo to a place on the shortlist. Shock horror, Messi came out on top, winning the award for a seventh time.
The winner: Messi
The nominees: Messi, Mbappe, Jadon Sancho and Sterling
The last time two English players appeared in the final four of the Ballon d'Or rankings was in 2005. It's been a long time coming but in 2022, Sancho and Sterling seemingly have brilliant years. With it being a World Cup that year, perhaps Gareth Southgate's Three Lions had a tournament to remember. Unfortunately, neither of them were able to walk away with the major prize as Mbappe won the Ballon d'Or for a first time.
The winner: Mbappe
The nominees: Sterling, Vinicius Jr, Mbappe and Paulo Dybala
For the third year in a row Manchester City's Sterling features on the shortlist. This time he's joined by some new faces in Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr and Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala. With no Messi or Ronaldo on the list for the first time, this is where things really start to get interesting. That being said, FIFA 21's very own cover star walks away with the award for a second consecutive season.
The winner: Mbappe
The nominees: Inaki Williams, Joao Felix, Sterling and Mbappe
Another year with Mbappe on? Yep, you guessed it. This time he's joined by some more new faces in Joao Felix, another of FIFA 21's poster boys, and Spanish forward Inaki Williams. However, after making the list for a fifth consecutive year, Sterling finally wins the prestigious gong. He becomes the first English winner since Michael Owen in 2001.
The winner: Sterling
The nominees: Mbappe, Vinicius Jr, Matheus Cunha and Felix
After a mightily strong five years, Sterling finally falls off the shortlist with Vinicius Jr appearing for a second year and Matheus Cunha popping up for the first time. He currently plays for Hertha Berlin so must have got a big move somewhere along the line. On this occasion, Felix came away with the prize.
The winner: Felix
The nominees: Francisco Trincao, Ansu Fati, Felix & Mbappe
Felix and Mbappe are starting to dominate proceedings here, but they are, at least, joined by two newer faces on the 2026 shortlist. Ansu Fati, who is currently just 17, has clearly done well for himself, while another Barcelona prodigy in Trincao gets recognition too. Neither of them can pip Mbappe to the post as he wins it for a third time on FIFA 21.
The winner: Mbappe
The nominees: Luis Javier Suarez, Adam Hlozek, Mbappe & Vinicius Jr
This is definitely one of the most interesting shortlists yet. It includes Mbappe again but he is joined by Hungarian winger Hlozek, who at the time of writing, is just 18 and plays for Sparta Prague. The strangest name yet, however, is Luis Javier Suarez. No, that's not a regen of the great Uruguayan - he currently plays for Granada in La Liga. This time Mbappe is trumped to the award.
The winner: Vinicius Jr
The nominees: Mbappe, Felix, Vinicius Jr & Hlozek
A familiar set of names with Mbappe in contention for an extraordinary eighth year in a row. This time he is bettered by Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr again who wins it for a second straight time. Impressive work from the Brazilian.
The winner: Vinicius Jr
The nominees: Amara Ngom (regen), Mbappe, Jonathan David & Lautaro Martinez
Another year with Mbappe at the top? Of course. In nine years time, he is set to be joined on the shortlist by Jonathan David, who ends up playing for Bayern Munich and Martinez, who joins Liverpool. All three of them are trumped, however, by Ngom, a Senegalese regen who also plays for the Reds. Bizarre.
The winner: Ngom
The nominees: Fati, Trincao, Mbappe & Joel Boa Morte (regen)
Another fascinating list that includes our second regen of the experiment. Mbappe makes it for the tenth year in a row but is beaten once again by someone who doesn't even exist in real life. He is Portuguese and plays for Manchester United in-game - is this the second coming of Ronaldo? It turns out it is because he walks away with the award ten years in the future.
The winner: Boa Morte
The nominees: Juan Gomez (regen), Mbappe, Vinicius Jr & Boa Morte
Mbappe has clearly become one of the greatest players to live at this stage of FIFA and is joined once again by Vinicius Jr and 2030's winner Boa Morte. All of them are trumped by another regen in Juan Gomez, a 5 foot 7 winger from Argentina that plays for Chelsea.
The winner: Gomez
The nominees: Alexander Isak, Erling Haaland, Sancho and Mbappe
No regens this year but it makes for a very interesting list of names. Sancho appears for the first time since 2022 in-game but they are beaten by perhaps, the most surprising name yet - Isak.
The Swede is currently playing for Real Sociedad but incredibly wins the gong despite playing for Wolves at the age of 33. Yep, you read that correctly, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Crazy.
The winner: Isak
The nominees: Mbappe, Vinicius Jr, Leonel Lodico (regen) and Juan Gomez
I know Mbappe is the cover star of this years FIFA, but it's ridiculous just how many times he features on the Ballon d'Or shortlist. In 2033, he wins it once again, topping Argentine regen in Gomez and also Lodico, another regen who plays for Juventus. He looks a little like Sergio Aguero 2.0.
The winner: Mbappe
The nominees: Konrad Dabrowski (regen), Fati, Haaland and Sancho
For the first time since 2020 in-game, Mbappe does not appear on the list of nominees to win the Ballon d'Or. In 2034, he is usurped by Dabrowski, a 92 rated Polish striker playing for Arsenal, and some of the best youngsters in the world right now, Fati, Sancho and Haaland.
The winner: Fati
So, there we have it, a comprehensive list of every single Ballon d'Or nominee and winner for the next 15 years. Of course, it'll probably be completely different in real life but it was a fascinating experiment nonetheless.
I wonder if we'll actually get Ronaldo and Messi 2.0 in the future?
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