Ballon d'Or: 10 players who could have won if Messi and Ronaldo did not exist
The Ballon d'Or 2017 award is all set to be announced on Thursday and once again it is the familiar duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who are competing for the prestigious individual prize.
Having completely dominated the award since 2008, the duo has cemented their legacy as two of the greatest players to ever play the game. However, during this era, there have been plenty of other players who have come up with some extraordinary performances.
We take a look at 10 players who could have won the Ballon d'Or if they were not born in the same era as Messi and Ronaldo:
#10 Fernando Torres
Far before his struggles at Chelsea, Fernando Torres had firmly established himself as one of the best strikers in the game. Moving to Liverpool from his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid in 2007, the Spaniard immediately hit the ground running scoring some spectacular goals along the way and inspiring Liverpool to some stunning performances in both the Premier League and the Champions League.
In the calendar year of 2008, Fernando Torres was quite simply one of the most feared goalscorers in world football. Going past defenders with ridiculous ease and scoring all kinds of goals, Torres quickly became a firm fan favourite at Liverpool. He even scored Spain's 2008 Euro winning goal with a lovely dinked finish against Germany.
However, that very season, Ronaldo was in stunning form for Manchester United. The Portuguese superstar was quite clearly the best player in the world and although Torres was nominated for the Ballon d'Or award, he could only end up coming third behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Torres in 2007-2009 was quite simply impossible to defend against!