There’s a good chance that neither Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi will win the Ballon d’Or award this year.
The two superstars have won the coveted individual accolade five times each since 2007. No other player has really come close to breaking the duopoly since then.
However, it’s Luka Modric – winner of the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year and FIFA’s ‘The Best’ awards – who is the current favourite to seal the 2018 Ballon d’Or after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid and reaching the World Cup final with Croatia.
Does this mean we’re now entering the post-Messi and Ronaldo era?
Well, it’s probably too early to assume that. Despite a difficult start to life at Juventus, Ronaldo is still scoring goals on a consistent basis. Messi, meanwhile, is Messi.
The Barcelona icon produced one of the finest individual performances of 2018 against Tottenham in the Champions League at Wembley last week and isn’t remotely close to entering the early stages of decline.
Their longevity is genuinely remarkable. To keep themselves at the very top for more than a decade is an incredible feat which shouldn’t be understated.
ROONEY HAS HIS SAY ON RONALDO V MESSI
Wayne Rooney was once thought to be on the same level as Ronaldo and Messi, back around 2006, but was unable to keep pace with the two extra-terrestrials.
Now with DC United – and performing very well, by the way – the former Manchester United and England striker has come out with some interesting comments about the two greatest footballers of the current generation.
Rooney has previously stated his belief that Messi is better than his former United teammate Ronaldo – and his opinion hasn’t changed of late.
“In both games (Champions League finals) if we had been against any other team but Barcelona you would have fancied us to win,” he was quoted.
“In my eyes they are the best team ever and Messi is the best player ever. What he gets to do is incredible. Messi has just got a bit of everything.”
Rooney believes that Messi is a more complete player than Ronaldo, who he feels is now just an out-and-out goalscorer.
“Ronaldo has gone from a winger to a striker and a goalscorer,” he added.
“Rather than taking players on all the time, he has gone more one or two touch, getting in the box and scoring goals.
“Messi a bit of everything – you see him scoring goals from playing probably a deep midfield role at times, and where I’m probably still walking on the pitch he’s scoring. So he is probably the best.”
WHY ROONEY IS SPOT ON
While Ronaldo’s hardcore fans will be disappointed by Rooney’s comments, it’s very hard to disagree.
Ronaldo does little apart from score goals now. That’s not a criticism: sticking the ball in the back of the net will always be the hardest part of football.
But Messi, as we saw last week at Wembley, still controls matches with his extraordinary talent.
He often looks like he’s playing a different sport to other players – even fellow Champions League players – and it’s hard to imagine another talent like him coming along in all our lifetimes.