Ballon d'Or Winners Since 2000: If Players Were Only Allowed To Win It Once
It's common knowledge that the Ballon d'Or standings have been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of late, but what if players were only allowed to win the trophy once?
In a fascinating insight into the runners up of this prestigious award, a number of unlikely names feature in the list.
Before Cristiano Ronaldo secured his first Ballon d'Or in 2008, just months after Manchester United lifted the Champions League, the award was actually won by ten seperate winners.
As we all know, the dominance of Ronaldo and Messi soon shifted the Ballon d'Or standings for years to come, but what if they were only allowed to win it once?
In 2010, Lionel Messi lifted his second Ballon d'Or after winning 22.65% of the votes. Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta came in a close second with 17.36%, while Xavi picked up 16.48% of the vote to come in third place.
Xavi was then a runner-up in 2011 after Messi won his second consecutive trophy and a year later, Radamel Falcao, who was perhaps the best striker in the world with Atletico Madrid at the time, came fourth in 2012.
Who won it that year? Yep you guessed it. Lionel Messi.
In 2013 - in perhaps the most controvertial decision to date - Franck Ribery came in third place, despite being an integral member of the Bayern Munich team which won the Bundesliga and Champions League that year.
Ribery still believes he was hard done by and in an interview with L'Equipe in 2019, he revealed his shock at missing out.
"I saw myself as the Ballon d'Or. It's the truth. Even today, I think I deserved it. I still haven't digested it. I did everything to have it." he said.
"I ticked all the boxes. I won all I could win with Bayern. I couldn't do better! I did a very, very, very big personal year.
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"I had nothing to envy Ronaldo or Messi for, that year. I really took a big hit on the head. I experienced this third place as a terrible injustice.
"I asked the question 10,000 times: why not me? The more I thought, the more I was disgusted. All was not clear."
Then a year later, another Bayern player, Manuel Neuer, became one of only two goalkeepers to feature in the list, when he came in third place behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo with 15.72% of the vote.
In 2015, Neymar secured third place after yet more domination from Messi and Ronaldo.
And Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann, who now plays for Barcelona, had exactly the same problem in 2016, when he failed to top the unstoppable duo in bronze position.
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was the next player to suffer from the brilliance of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar, when he came in fourth place after an impressive season for the Italian giants in 2017.
Luka Modric then ended the 10 year reign of Messi and Ronaldo when he lifted the Ballon d'Or in 2018 after helping Real Madrid to the Champions League, as well as Croatia to the European Championship final.
And, of course, Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk came in second place behind Lionel Messi in the most recent Ballon d'Or ceremony.
Do you think a certain player has a right to feel aggrieved by their Balon d'Or standings? Should Franck Ribery have won it in 2013?
Let us know in the comments.