Although France Football and FIFA have now split, the Ballon d’Or remains the most prestigious individual accolade and the award most coveted by the world’s top players.
Lionel Messi is in contention to win the award for a record-breaking sixth time; Cristiano Ronaldo is hoping to win it for the fourth time in his career while the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale are all rated as outside contenders to spring a surprise next week.
That international managers and captains no longer have a say over who wins the Ballon d’Or - journalists are now the only people to cast votes - means there was some doubt over whether Ronaldo, the overwhelming favourite, would receive the award this year.
The 31-year-old was installed as the firm favourite as soon as he won the Champions League with Real Madrid back in May.
That he went on to win the European Championships with Portugal only shortened his odds of securing the award.
And the winner is...
While the winner won’t receive the prize until January 9, it will be announced who’s been crowned the winner on December 13.
However, according to Mundo Deportivo, the winner already knows the outcome - and so do his club.
It won’t come as a shock to discover that the winner of the 2016 Ballon d’Or is… Cristiano Ronaldo.
Second place goes to...
Mundo Deportivo also understand that Messi has secured second place on the podium but it’s currently unclear who’s third.
Ronaldo deserves the award this year
The majority of football fans will feel this is the right result.
Ronaldo, who was named as the Best Player in Europe by UEFA in August, has enjoyed the most memorable year of his career.
His critics will argue that he failed to perform in either the Champions League final (despite scoring the winning penalty) and the Euro 2016 final (when he was subbed off after sustaining an injury midway through the first half) but Ronaldo still made a key contribution during both tournaments.
Ronaldo is also the favourite to win FIFA’s new version of their Player of the Year award.
Does Cristiano Ronaldo deserve the 2016 Ballon d’Or? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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