Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez both had memorable year’s, but it’s unlikely either will be able to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi going head-to-head at January’s Ballon d’Or ceremony.
In fact, even Messi might be helpless to stop the Portuguese from claiming a fourth award. Ronaldo is the heavy favourite after winning the Champions League and European Championship.
Yet, if the vote was Ronaldinho’s alone, Messi will soon be celebrating a sixth-title.
“All the players have done a brilliant job, it is tough to choose,” the Brazil legend, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2005, told AS.
“Ok, I will be honest with you, I am backing Messi.”
Messi’s bid is weighed down by his failure at the Copa America Centenario. The Barcelona maestro star missed a penalty in the shootout as Argentina went down to Chile.
Where Messi failed on the international stage, Ronaldo succeeded.
The Real Madrid star got off to a slow start in 2016-17 - four goals in nine matches is slow by Ronaldo’s standards - but he silenced the critics with an impressive hat-trick in Sunday’s win against Alaves.
And the 31-year-old has the backing of one of his former manager’s in his hunt for a fourth Ballon d’Or: Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson’s quotes appear on the front page of today’s edition of Marca, accompanied with the headline: “Nobody better than Cristiano for the Ballon d’Or”.
“He had a marvellous year and his achievements this season are second to none,” Ferguson is quoted as saying.
“Cristiano Ronaldo's determination and his desire to be the best reach obsessive levels."
The admiration Ferguson and Ronaldo share for one another is astonishing. You only have to go back two weeks for the last time the Scot lavished praise on the ex-United star.
“Ronaldo is a perfect example of someone who made himself,” Ferguson said, via the Mirror.
"It's easy for me to say, 'yeah I made Ronaldo'. Many coaches might say I made this player and I made that player, but Ronaldo made himself.
“We just gave him the tools and the platform to excel."
Ferguson was just being modest. Ronaldo owes plenty of his success down to the man who gave him a chance to play for Manchester United all those years ago.