Can Anyone Upset Messi and Ronaldo’s Dominance?

Up until 2008 the prestigious Ballon d’Or award was an achievement that all of the top footballers in the world could aspire to attain. In the long history of the golden ball trophy since 1956, the highest number of successive wins by one player was three, held by Michael Platini between 1983 and 1985.

That was until Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi came along. Ever since the Portuguese won the accolade in his final season at Manchester United, he and the Argentine superstar have been untouchable at the top of the tree, both ending in either first or second place every year. With these elite players showing no signs of stopping, when will another star get a look in?

There are plenty of world class players around that are frightfully unlucky to be plying their trade in the same era as Barcelona and Real Madrid’s main men. But with Ronaldo now 32 years old, and Messi 29, some may have a feeling that their time could be on the horizon.

Within the next five years, the dominance of two of the best players the world has ever seen could be at an end as Messi and Ronaldo move towards retirement. That would leave the door open for a number of young talents to fight for the most coveted prize in football. At 25 and 26 years old respectively, Neymar and Eden Hazard could be prime candidates to receive the football journalists' votes for the best player in the world.

Neymar has come the closer of the two, having been voted third in 2015 and fourth in 2016. Hazard finished eighth in 2015, the same year he claimed the PFA Player of the Year award in the Premier League.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have eleven and nine Ballon d’Or winners respectively, which is more than any other club in the world. If Neymar stays at Barcelona, this could put him at an advantage to claim the award in years to come. There has been plenty of speculation over Hazard’s future, and the Belgian may feel that a move to Madrid would be beneficial for his chances of being recognised as the world’s best. The 26-year-old has been exceptional this season and has helped Chelsea to an almost certain title win. As such, the Blues at the time of writing are 1/20 in the football betting to go all the way.

Bookies are favouring Hazard to stay at Stamford Bridge this summer, but Los Blancos are likely to try to sign the player in the near future. If the midfield magician moves to the Santiago Bernabeu and continues his upwards trajectory, he will almost certainly claim the Ballon d’Or at some stage in his career.

But Neymar and Hazard aren’t the only superstars that could be battling to be the paramount player in the years to come. Players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Philippe Coutinho, and Romelu Lukaku seem set to keep climbing to greater heights. These young players certainly have plenty of time to make their mark and poise themselves for when Messi and Ronaldo finally retire.