Xavi names the player he thinks will win the 2016 Ballon d’Or

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After France Football and FIFA agreed to go their separate ways last month, this is the final year that international managers and captains will have a say over who wins the Ballon d’Or.

From 2017 onwards, only journalists will be able to cast votes for European football’s most prestigious individual award.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the overwhelming favourite to secure 2016’s Ballon d’Or after winning both the Champions League and European Championships - with Real Madrid and Portugal, respectively - followed by Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, who lost both the Champions League and Euro 2016 finals, is also expected to be in contention to secure a place on the podium.

However, it would be a huge surprise if Ronaldo - who was named as the Best Player in Europe by UEFA in August - doesn’t secure the coveted accolade for the fourth time in January.

Xavi and Ronaldo's public spat

One man who believes that Ronaldo should be viewed as the clear favourite is the former Barcelona maestro Xavi.

The two superstars were involved in a public spat last month after Xavi told reporters: "Ronaldo is a player of his time, the problem is that there is another who has been pretty much the best player in history.

“Ronaldo is extraordinary but compared to Messi, for me and for everyone who likes football, there can be no comparisons.

“Messi will be number one until he wants [to stop]. He's superior to everyone and is the best in the world, unless you are Real Madrid."

This led an angry Ronaldo to petulantly hit back by saying: "I'm the most searched player on the internet.” (No, we didn’t make that up).

”Anyone who wants free publicity or media attention talks about me,” the Portuguese forward added.

"I couldn't care less about what Xavi says about me, he plays in Qatar or I don't even know where. He's won every collective trophy, including a World Cup and the European Championship, but he's never won a Ballon d’Or.

"It's a privilege for me to have won the Ballon d'Or three times with Messi contending for the award."

Xavi's answer 'shocked' audience

Xavi opted against stooping to Ronaldo’s level this week and has, instead, named the Madrid superstar as the man he expects to win the Ballon d’Or.

Marca claim that Xavi’s answer shocked the audience inside the Amsterdam Arena, where the Al Sadd midfielder was speaking, with Ronaldo’s recent comments at the forefront of their minds.

"Ronaldo has a big chance to win this year's Golden Ball having won the Champions League and the European Championship,” Xavi was quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper. "But I also think it will be very competitive because there is [Lionel] Messi, of course."

Ronaldo will probably be a little perturbed that Xavi even threw Messi’s name into the hat, but this is the closest thing he’ll receive to an apology - not that one was required - from the Barça legend.

Is Cristiano Ronaldo nailed on to win the 2016 Ballon d’Or? Have your say by leaving a comment below.

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Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Ballon d'Or

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