Luka Modric capped off his incredible year by winning the much-coveted Ballon d'Or last night in Paris. His year was almost perfect as he won the Golden Ball at the FIFA World Cup 2018 and FIFA's Best player award a few months ago. The midfield maestro cemented his place in history books by playing a key role for both his club and country.
In the last decade, both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the individual awards. They have won the Ballon d'Or 5 times each and it still remains a prestigious award for any individual. Almost all every player dream of touching the award at least once in their career.
There is no doubt that an individual award like Ballon d'Or is one of the highest recognition a player can get. Although it would only be foolish to count the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi out in the near future, the rise of potential superstars would also give us a perfect depiction of what is to come regarding individual awards like Ballon d'Or.
Let us take a quick look at three players who can mark the beginning of a new era in future.
#3. Harry Kane
In the last few seasons, Harry Kane has depicted his mettle and calibre in the biggest of stages and against the toughest opponents. His staggering numbers and impact for both his club and country demonstrate the striker's brilliance.
Kane is a top goalscorer for Tottenham and in the Premier League for the last few years but being a Golden Boot winner at the World Cup at just 25 really marks his world-class presence. He chalked up 6 goals in 573 minutes at the World Cup, bragging two Man of the match awards in the process.
At club level, even his critics know that he is priceless for Tottenham and key to their rise at the top. He has scored 115 goals in 166 matches in the Premier League and continues to terrorise opponents with world-class abilities.
Kane has proved himself to be an undeniable threat to opponents due to his superb abilities. He has proved his efficiency and consists of all the hallmarks of a truly great player. If he continues to perform like his usual brilliant manner, we can expect him to be at the podium in the next few years.
#2. Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard is a player with a plethora of skills and abilities but there were questions about his consistency and performance at the biggest stages. In 2018, it is safe to say that he has quashed those doubts in a sensational manner with his spectacular displays time and again.
An ever-existing threat to his opponents, Hazard really stepped up his performances this year. He was the leading talisman for Belgium in the World Cup despite the presence of talented players like Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in his squad. His four Man of the match performances in the World Cup showed how valuable asset he is to his team.
Hazard attracted a lot of interest from clubs like Real Madrid but stayed through the good and bad times at Chelsea. He is the undisputed driving force for Chelsea and the pivotal reason for their good performances this season.
Most of us are familiar with Hazard's exploits and it is quite clear that he can unlock any defence at will. We can expect him at the pinnacle of football if he keeps up with his sensational performances in the near future.
#1. Neymar Jr.
Even when he was young, Neymar was touted as the one to break the duopoly of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at individual awards. He hasn't managed to do that but do not let it cloud from the fact that he is still one of world's best at the moment.
2018 was not a good year for the Brazilian as he was sidelined with injuries amidst his Champions League knockout games against Real Madrid. Paris Saint Germain got knocked out soon after and failed at their European dream once again. Neymar's return after his injury was at the World Cup where he was not at his very best.
Yet Neymar Jr. was the one who made Brazil tick although they performed way below the usual expectations. Neymar scored twice, provided a couple of assists and gave two Man of the match performances in the World Cup.
But it seems Neymar has regained his confidence and his form to be back at being World Class after a poor end to the 2017/18 season. He has already scored 15 goals for Paris Saint Germain in all competitions, providing with four Man of the match performances in five appearances at the UEFA Champions League against the likes of Liverpool and Napoli.
It would only be foolish to question the calibre of someone as talented as Neymar. Whether he can make it at the biggest stages remains to be seen. But it is clear that Neymar will be on the podium unless he miraculously deteriorates and injuries come in his way.