With Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi continuing to dominate the Ballon d’Or trophy, there will be a time in the future that those names will have to step out of the award’s limelight and allow others to win it.
But who will? We’re happy for this list to be quoted in the year 2034 when we’ll all laugh about how far off the mark some of them were, but here’s some players that we’re tipping.
1 Paul Pogba
Hear us out – we know his (second) Manchester United career has been a little mediocre, but he’s basically Patrick Vieira with added joie de vivre.
Just imagine the haircut he’d unveil for the ceremony.
2 Raphael Varane
It’s about time defenders were shown some love again. Real Madrid’s centre-back is lightning quick and reads the game like a Biff and Chip book.
3 Douglas Costa
Bayern Munich’s flying winger has been flip-flapping defenders into retirement for a couple of years now. Wizardry plus end product equals Ballon d’Or candidate.
Also, a shoo-in when Brazil finally win the World Cup again – in 2018, or 2022.
4 Martin Odegaard
We’re gazing deep into our crystal ball for this one. There hasn’t been a Scandinavian winner since Denmark’s Allan Simonsen in 1977, but under the stewardship of Zinedine Zidane and learning from Crsitaino Ronaldo will do him no harm at all.
5 Gabriel Barbosa
Gabigol has got to deal with being ‘the next Ronaldo’, ‘the next Neymar’, and has been dubbed with a Gabriel Batistuta-esque nickname.
If he comes even close to living up to those names he’ll have to reinforce his trophy cabinet on a regular basis – he just needs game time.
6 Paulo Dybala
They know their way around a goalscorer in Argentina. The Juventus forward was irresistible in 2016 and at 23 he’s got years to continue proving himself.
7 Gareth Bale
Keep those calves in shape, get rid of Cristiano and Bob’s your uncle. Simple as that. It’s obvious.
8 Youri Tielemans
If you know, you know. FIFA and Football Manager fanatics will be familiar with the young Belgian’s potential. Expect a European giant to come knocking on Anderlecht’s door soon.
9 Kingsley Coman
Another young Frenchman with the world at his feet. His spectacular goal against his parent club in the Champions League last season got tongues wagging for all the right reasons.
This one is a sure bet. Honing his skills at Barcelona under the guidance of the very best. Once Messi has passed down all his secrets, expect Neymar to dominate the award for years.
11 Dele Alli
We’ll end with some English hope, shall we? Who wouldn’t love to see the Milton Keynes Kaka collect the top gong?
Oh, and a bonus one…
12 Benjamin Aguero
Young Benji has Sergio Aguero as a father, Diego Maradona as a Grandfather and Lionel Messi as a Godfather. If everything we know about genetics is true then this kid will be hoarding Ballon d’Ors in two decade’s time.
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VIDEO: Kasper Dolberg is also one to keep an eye on…