You have to go all the way back to 2007 to find the last winner of the Ballon d’Or who wasn’t either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Since Kaka’s victory that year the two superstars have dominated the award with the Real Madrid man winning three out of the last four.

With Ronaldo’s triumphs in La Liga and the Champions League this year it is widely expected that he will once again be crowned the finest footballer in the world this December. But who can break this stranglehold on the prestigious prize?

The Ballon d’Or award is voted for by football journalists and covers the calendar year rather than individual seasons so that is why we can safely assume that Ronaldo will be victorious again. But depending on how the upcoming season goes maybe we will finally have a new name at the end of 2018.

Former Monaco Stars
The journalists voting for the award take the Champions League as the most important indicator of success and an individual’s influence on their side’s performance. And one side that impressed everyone last season was Monaco. As predicted the stars of the team have left for some of the biggest clubs in Europe so if Bernardo Silva or Kylian Mbappé show the same kind of form at their new clubs they may be able have a say in the proceedings.

Blues Brothers
Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kanté may have taken the English Premier League by storm last season but Chelsea’s omission from the Champions League due to a disastrous campaign the year before means that they will not be in with a shout this year. But if either of these two can lead their club to league and European success next year they could definitely be in the running for the award.

Barca Block
Messi has rightly taken most of the plaudits for the success of his club in the last few years but he has been ably backed up by some of the finest players on the planet. Neymar was actually named third in the 2015 Ballon d’Or but teammate Luis Suárez could also impress the voting journalists if he continues his form next year – especially if the Catalan side are able to beat their bitter rivals to the league title and the big prize as well.

Outside Bets
Antoine Griezmann came third last year and is influential for his club as well as his country. But Atlético Madrid’s performance in Europe – as good as it is – will undoubtedly mark him down for the Ballon d’Or. Although there was talk of a move this summer that now looks less likely so unless both Ronaldo and Messi fall away in the next couple of years the Frenchman will probably never lift this individual award.

Other players that could break into the reckoning over the next few years include Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Napoli’s Dries Mertens. All these footballers perform exceptionally well for their teams and if any were to lead their clubs (wherever they end up) to Champions League glory then they could be the next new name to receive the award.

No Change Yet
Although it would be nice to think that someone like Gianluigi Buffon might win the Ballon d’Or before he retires (whenever that might be) it is generally the more attacking players that end up receiving the award. Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 is a lone defensive winner in a long list of triumphant midfielders and forwards and that pattern is unlikely to change anytime soon.

But as long as Ronaldo and Messi stay fit and healthy it is also unlikely that anyone else will get a look in over the next few years as these two battle it out annually to be named the best footballer in the world.