FIFA may have created their own award after recently splitting with France Football following a five-year partnership, but the Ballon d’Or is still the individual accolade world football’s superstars crave most.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the overwhelming favourite to seal the award for the fourth time in his illustrious career after winning both the Champions League (with Real Madrid) and the European Championships (with Portugal).
However, Barcelona star Lionel Messi is in contention to win the Ballon d’Or for a record-breaking sixth time following another excellent calendar year while Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann should also finish somewhere on the podium.
Mario Balotelli, in his own mind anyway, might feel he deserves an honourable mention after bouncing back to form at Nice over the past couple of months.
The Italian striker has scored seven goals in seven appearances for the French club since leaving Liverpool in the summer and is clearly enjoying his football again after a difficult couple of years.
Balotelli wouldn't give Ballon d'Or to Ronaldo or Messi
Balotelli isn’t arrogant or deluded enough to proclaim that he should win the Ballon d’Or - but he has named the player he feels deserves it most.
And it’s not Ronaldo, Messi or Griezmann.
"Cristiano, Messi or [Luis] Suarez [will win]," Balotelli told Telefoot, per Goal. "But to be honest, I would give it to Suarez."
Suarez did score the most goals last season...
Suarez scored more goals than Ronaldo, Messi and Griezmann last season.
In 53 appearances for Barcelona during the 2015-16 campaign, the world-class South American forward netted 59 goals.
In the process, he secured the European Golden Shoe for the second time in his career.
Suarez: I won't win the Ballon d'Or
However, Suarez doesn’t believe he stands a chance of winning the Ballon d’Or, telling reporters last month that the award is designed for “marketable” players.
"The Ballon d'Or is more to do with marketing and press than for achievements on the pitch," he was quoted as saying by Goal.
"I've earned all the awards I've been given. The Golden Shoe is for scoring the most goals and there's no option for people to take that away from me.
"I don't have a chance with the Ballon d'Or because it works around marketing and I don't have that. My ambition is to win another Champions League, that would be great."
Which player deserves to win the 2016 Ballon d’Or? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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