The soccer world has seen Lionel Messi win the prized Ballon d’Or for a record fifth time. Since it was first awarded in 1956, the Ballon d’Or has been regarded as the highest possible individual honour for a player.
Messi first won the coveted trophy in 2009 and then won it the next three years in a row. His reign as the world’s top soccer player was interrupted when Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo won the award in 2013 and 2014, but Barcelona’s star player was again voted the world’s best soccer player for 2015.
So, can he break his own record and win in 2016 and who will he have to beat to get the honour? Of course, a lot can happen in 12 months, but as it stands there are four players with more than a fair chance of being awarded the 2016 Ballon d’Or.
The Barcelona striker has been a big name in soccer for a long time now, but he’s still only going to be 29 when the 2016 trophy is decided. So, Messi’s age shouldn’t count against him too much. He’s already scored five goals in January alone and, although he may not be at the same goalscoring level as Ronaldo, it’s still a pretty impressive tally. Of course, it would be the stuff of legend if he were to win the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time.
Ronaldo was obviously disappointed to miss out on the Ballon d’Or in 2016, especially as he and Messi have been such constant rivals over the years. The two play for the top two Spanish clubs that always dominate La Liga and are consistent among the contenders in La Liga betting. However, following the 2015 Ballon d’Or ceremony, Ronaldo announced that he’d set himself a new career goal – to score another 500 goals before the end of his career.
Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that he wants to achieve this goal after failing to win the Ballon d'or! Good luck! https://t.co/lik5XVGHd3
— GeniusFootball (@GeniusFootball) January 12, 2016
He’s a year older than Messi, but if Ronaldo can score consistently well under Real Madrid’s new manager, Zinedine Zidane, and if Madrid does well over the next 12 months, there’s no reason why Ronaldo couldn’t be one of next year’s favorites to win the 2016 Ballon d’Or.
How will Neymar do today playing without either Messi or Suárez for the 1st time since the 3 were united at Barça? pic.twitter.com/6tqqh5Otx4
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 20, 2016
Even Messi has tipped Neymar as a future Ballon d’Or winner. Neymar has a great goalscoring record and achieved his 250th career goal against Real Madrid in November 2015. But he also shown himself to be selfless in his playing style, allowing both Messi and Suarez the space to score goals for Barcelona. When playing for his country, Neymar is absolutely vital in providing Brazil’s creative edge.
Bale is playing superb soccer at Real Madrid. Bale is scoring more consistently for Real Madrid than his team-mate, Ronaldo. So far, Bale’s best season for Los Blancos was in 2013-14 when he scored 21 goals. He’s also captain of the Welsh team for the Euro 2016 campaign. This is the first time in a generation that Wales have made it through to the finals of a major international soccer tournament.
Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for other players to come to the fore during the rest of the year, but it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see any of these four players lifting the 2016 Ballon d’Or.