Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi went head-to-head once more for the Ballon d’Or, but it was the Portuguese emerged winner ahead of the Argentine and Brazil’s Neymar Jr. as revealed at a glitzy awards ceremony held in Paris, the France capital on Thursday.
France Football’s award is presented to the best player competing in Europe and considered one of the highest accolades an individual can achieve in the sport.
A group of 173 journalists from around the world voted on the prize this year, and while Ronaldo and Messi were favourites there were still plenty of bragging rights to be won for the other 28 players on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
It’s Ronaldo’s second successive golden ball after claiming the 2016 edition again at the expense of his rival Messi who finished in second place last year. Messi was voted second on the standing ahead of former team-mate Neymar who dumped the Camp Nou for PSG last summer.
Sadio Mane (23) surprisingly beat Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho (29), while Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea was ranked 20th and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard was one spot ahead (19).
Atleitco Madrid star Antoine Griezmann was ranked a lowly 18th behind the rival Real Madrid duo of Toni Kroos (17) and Marcelo (16) while Isco (12) beat Barcelona ace Luis Suarez (13).
Polish striker Robert Lewandowski (9) whose 31 Bundesliga goals helped Bayern Munich to their 27th top-flight title was voted on place ahead of Tottenham’s Harry Kane (10).
The France terrier of a midfielder N’Golo Kante (8) won his second successive Premier League title when he helped Chelsea to the crown last season. His countryman Kylian Mbappe (7) at 18 years and 11 months – on loan at PSG – becomes the youngest player to appear in the top 10 of the Ballon d’Or.
Mbappe’s goals helped Monaco to their first league title since 2000 and he scared the life out of Man City and Borussia Dortmund in last season’s Champions League, as the team reached the semis. He is expected to join PSG next summer for about £160m. That’s £160m.
The 31-year-old Spain defender Sergio Ramos (6) who scored a remarkable 10 goals for his club as they won the league and European double last season is ranked ahead of behind club mate Luka Modric (5).
The former Tottenham player was integral in helping Los Blancos to the double. He became the first Croatian to win the Champions League competition three times.
Gianluigi Buffon is ranked 4th after helping Juventus to the Serie A title despite the dsiappointment of failing to win the one major club trophy not in his locker – the Champions League – as Juventus were defeated by Real Madrid in the final. He was also unable to lead Italy to a Wrold Cup qualification, having lost out to Sweden in the European playoff spots.