Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas has opened up about who he feels should win the Ballon d’Or award this year.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had a stranglehold on the award for the past decade, winning it five times each.
However, that streak came to an end last year when Luka Modric took home the award following a stellar season with club and country.
However, he has struggled to replicate that form this season which has opened the door for some of the usual suspects to make a case for themselves.
Lionel Messi and Virgil Van Dijk among frontrunners for Ballon d’Or
As always, Messi is a frontrunner for the award. However, he is set to face stiff competition from both Ronaldo and Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk.
Messi led Barcelona to yet another La Liga triumph and also won the European Golden Shoe and Pichichi Awards, having scored 51 goals in the season.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, was not initially a contender. However, he took Portugal to UEFA Nations League glory which has put him firmly in the reckoning once again.
Van Dijk, meanwhile, made the final of the Nations League with Netherlands. He also led Liverpool to the Champions League trophy. However, league success still eluded the Reds as they finished one point behind Manchester City.
Cesc Fabregas has his say
Fabregas believes that while the Champions League could sway the votes in favour of Van Dijk, when it comes to individual brilliance, Messi should be comfortably leading the race.
“It is very difficult, it might depend on who won the Champions League. Normally, these trophies are appointed to people who win big things. I think Messi won it in 2010 when they only won the league so it is definitely doable.
“I think it is if it is all about who is the best, then Messi is the best. No doubt about it.
“I think Liverpool have had a fantastic season, though. Potentially one of their players could be on the podium, for sure.”
The Ballon d’Or ceremony will be held in December this year.