The Ballon d'Or is without doubt the most prestigious individual award in football. Only the very best in the business have been able to wrap their hands around the prize. It is an honour that has eluded some great footballers as well.
In the past 13 years, we have only had three Ballon d'Or winners. Lionel Messi has won six of those while Cristiano Ronaldo has won five. Luka Modric broke their duopoly and won it in 2018. The Ballon d'Or was canceled in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now that Messi and Ronaldo are on the wrong side of 30 and are walking into the twilight of their careers, it is time for new stars to take up the mantle. We have seen several incredible footballers break onto the scene in recent years. But do they have what it takes to be recognized as the best in the game?
Without further ado, let's take a look at five players who can win multiple Ballon d'Or awards in the future.
#5 Pedri - Spain/Barcelona
The diminutive Barcelona midfielder Pedri has already been likened to Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who are two of the greatest midfielders in the history of the game. The 18-year-old has already become a regular feature in Barcelona's starting lineup.
He made 52 appearances for the Catalans across all competitions in the 2020-21 season, scoring four goals and providing six assists. Pedri has all the qualities to be a vital cog in Barcelona's possession-based system.
He is just 18-years-old but boasts impeccable technique with his sharp turns and deft touches aiding him in navigating tight spaces in midfield. Pedri is also a great passer of the ball and he will only improve further from here.
The youngster was one of Spain's best players in their run to the semifinals of the recently concluded Euro 2020. Pedri was chosen as the Young Player of the Tournament at the continental competitions.
In a few years, he could go on to become one of Barcelona's best players and he has enough quality to dominate the game by the time he hits his peak. Pedri could most definitely go on to win multiple Ballons d'Or in the future.
#4 Kevin De Bruyne - Belgium/Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne has arguably been the best midfielder in Europe for several seasons now. The Belgian's astounding passing range and ability to orchestrate play from midfield has helped the Cityzens assert their dominance in the Premier League.
In the 2020-21 season, De Bruyne won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award. In 40 appearances across all competitions in the 2020-21 season for Manchester City, the 30-year-old scored 10 goals and provided 18 assists.
De Bruyne was also a standout performer for Belgium in their run to the quarter-finals. He is a technically proficient player who looks set to have several more years of playing at the top level. De Bruyne has been clocking incredible numbers for several seasons now.
In the 2019-20 season, he matched Thierry Henry's record for most assists in a Premier League season by setting up 20 goals for his side. If he consistently replicates those numbers in the coming seasons, KDB will become a top contender in the Ballon d'Or race.