Could Griezmann or Pogba Ever Win the Ballon d’Or?

Since 2008, there have been only two winners of the Ballon d’Or. Cristiano Ronaldo has won the prestigious award four times and Lionel Messi has clinched it on five occasions in the past nine years. With the Real Madrid ace and the Barcelona forward going strong at the moment, it is hard to see anyone breaking the duopoly anytime soon.

However, Ronaldo and Messi cannot go on forever and there will come a time when they would have to hang up their boots. The Portugal international turns 32 in February, while the Argentina international will be 30 by the time the 2017-18 season starts. Someone else will have to win the Ballon d’Or in the coming years. Could it be Antoine Griezmann or Paul Pogba?

Let’s look at Pogba first. During his four years at Italian club Juventus, the France international established himself as one of the best midfielders on the planet. While some questions have been raised on whether he is a world-class footballer due to his mixed performances for Manchester United so far this season, there can be no denial that he has a lot of potential and bucketloads of talent.

With the latest football betting odds of United winning the Premier League this season as high as 40/1, it is hard to see Pogba even making into the shortlist for the 2017 Ballon d’Or. The midfielder was on the shortlist for the 2016 edition mainly due to his performances for France at the 2016 European Championship and for Juventus last season, but there is a chance that he may not end up among the 30 top players in the world for 2017 if United finish outside the top four of the Premier League this term.

That should not be a deterrent for Pogba, who needs to be played to his strength by United manager Jose Mourinho. The most expensive player in the world should not be deployed in a defensive midfield role. Instead, he should be allowed the freedom to drive forward and make an effect in the final third. Pogba is only 23 years of age, and given the progress he made and the development he underwent at Juventus, he is only going to get better in the coming years.

Griezmann is also French and is two years older than Pogba. The Atletico Madrid forward is one of the hottest players in the world right now and has been linked with Manchester United for a while. Griezmann’s performances for Atletico and France in 2016 were so brilliant that he came third in the Ballon d’Or list behind Ronaldo and Messi.

The former Real Sociedad forward has taken his game to a whole new level since joining Atletico in the summer of 2014. The Frenchman has added goals to his game and has been one of the best players for the Madrid outfit for the past two and a half years. Atletico’s success in La Liga and in the Champions League in recent years has been built on their defensive strength, but in attack, it is Griezmann who is leading the line. He scored 22 goals in each of the last two seasons in La Liga and 11 in 20 Champions League appearances in 2015-16.

Atletico are not a glamorous club, but the fact that Griezmann finished third in the votes suggests that it is only a matter of time before the Frenchman comes first. Perhaps a move to a bigger club like Manchester United or Arsenal would enhance his chances of beating Ronaldo and Messi to the award in the next two or three years.