2024 Ballon d'Or odds show there is already a clear favourite for next year's award
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After Lionel Messi won his eighth, and likely final Ballon d'Or on Monday, the path is clear for someone new to win next year's award - but who is the favourite?
While Messi's record-breaking triumph cements his legacy as perhaps the greatest player of all time, Monday's ceremony also felt like the passing of the guard, with so many young players knocking on the Argentine's door.
Indeed, at the age of 36, Messi has surely won his last Ballon d'Or, but which talents have been tipped to win next year's award?
The Sporting News have curated a list of the most likely candidates to lift the prestigious prize in 2024, and one name comes out on top.
Their team of football experts were asked to pick their top three picks for next year's award, with descending points given for a first-place, second-place, and third-place vote.
In first place, and by an overwhelming majority, is Real Madrid and England midfielder Jude Bellingham.
The 20-year-old sensation picked up the Kopa Trophy on Monday evening for being the best Under-21 player in the world. While he came 18th on the list of Ballon d'Or nominees.
Bellingham has had an electric start to life in Spain, scoring 10 goals in 10 La Liga appearances, including a brace against Barcelona to win El Classico.
He has also excelled in the Champions League, and sits joint-top of the goalscoring charts after finding the net against Union Berlin, Napoli and Braga.
The second most likely player to win the Ballon d'Or next season according to the publication is Mbappe, who came closest to spoiling Messi's World Cup dream with a hat-trick in the final.
The Frenchman is closely followed by Manchester City's Haaland, who came second in this year's standings - and has continued where he left off last season.
Meanwhile, Bukayo Saka, John Stones and Harry Kane all got a vote each.
Who do you think will win the 2024 Ballon d'Or? Let us know in the comments.
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