It’s that time of the year when the focus shifts to the premier award show that glorifies individual brilliance of footballers over the calendar year. While Luka Modric is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year, here are five former winners who have named their choices…
#5 Ronaldinho – Paul Pogba
Ronaldinho is perhaps the most naturally-gifted player this era has seen. The Brazilian won two World Player of the Year awards and one Ballon d’Or during his time at Barcelona.
It is no hidden fact that Ronaldinho is an admirer of Paul Pogba. While requesting him to adhere to Jose Mourinho’s requirements, he expressed belief in the Frenchman’s ability to win this year’s Ballon d’or award. The former Barca star believes that Pogba can win this title only if he listens to his coach.
“He can win the Ballon d’Or, without a doubt,” Ronaldino said, before adding: “I think Paul really has a lot to learn from Mourinho, who is one of the best coaches in the world. A coach who has won so many titles should be respected.”
#4 Kaka – Kylian Mbappe or Luka Modric
The last player to win the Ballon d’Or before the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi era began was none other than Brazilian stalwar, Ricardo Kaka.
The former Real Madrid superstar has given his opinion on who is the favourite to win the fabled accolade. According to him, Luka Modric is the front runner to win with PSG’s Kylian Mbappe just behind him in the race.
“Modric has had some impressive results, winning the Champions League and being able to play the World Cup final,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport when asked who could win the award. “He is the man who creates the show and commands the game.
“Mbappe is very strong and has a whole career ahead of him. Let the future be yours.”
#3 Michael Owen – Mohamed Salah or Cristiano Ronaldo
Michael Owen was the last Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or award in 2001. At the time, he was one of the most lethal strikers in the football fraternity with a prolific 1998 World Cup campaign under his belt.
Before the Champions League final, when he was asked about who could win the Ballon d’Or this year, he gave a rather diplomatic answer, stating that a player from the UCL winning team, will go on to decide who wins the prestigious individual accolade.
“I think a lot will depend on who wins the Champions League. If Real Madrid wins, then Cristiano Ronaldo will be there once more.
“If Liverpool does it, Salah would be favourite. He has been absolutely brilliant this year, and has done very well in the Egypt team, taking them to the World Cup.”
#2 Andriy Shevchenko – Eden Hazard
Former Chelsea forward Andriy Shevchenko backed Eden Hazard to win the Ballon d’Or due to his recent goal-scoring touch under Maurizio Sarri.
The Ukrainian believes that the only thing that the Belgian missed was goals and now that he is scoring them frequently, he actually has a good chance to win the Ballon d’Or.
“Hazard is a phenomenal, fantastic player, but he wasn’t getting those 20-25 goals per season.
“This season he already has eight, so he’s on the road to that number. He has every chance of winning the Ballon d’Or.”
#1 Michel Platini – Raphael Varane
And finally the great Michel Platini. The former France superstar won the Ballon d’Or three times and was the original king of this honour before the famous pair of Messi and Ronaldo arrived.
According to Platini, the Ballon d’Or, this year, should go to Raphael Varane simply because was an indispensable part of the team that won the Champions League and the World Cup.
“You can have your opinion of Griezmann, Mbappe, Giroud, Lloris, Modric… but the only player to have won everything is Raphael Varane,” he said.