Ballon d'Or: A glance at the younger generation destined to lift the prestigious honour after the Messi-Ronaldo era
Ballon d'Or is the pinnacle of individual recognition for a football player. For the past decade, a two-horse race has prevailed between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the coveted prize. With over 1200 goals scored and a plethora of titles accumulated between the duo, their supremacy in world-wide football is undistinguished.
With Messi and Ronaldo approaching the final years of their illustrious career, future superstars look forward to bearing the flag after an unprecedented era of dominance and competition between the two generational talents.
Luka Modric ended the superstar duo's seemingly perennial streak this year, after earning a World Cup runners-up medal and winning his fourth Champions League trophy. The Croatian midfielder also captured the FIFA Player of the Year, earlier merged with the France Football's Ballon d'Or.
Several emerging talents are making a name for themselves at the highest level, and it's just a matter of time until their ascend to the summit is rewarded with the eminent recognition. With the majority of discussion on the future generations, let us glance through some of the prodigies heading towards greatness.
#1 Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe Lottin is the frontrunner to succeed the prolific pair of Messi and Ronaldo. The French sensation is already a World Champion and three-time Ligue 1 winner. He is the second teenager (19 at that time) after Pele to score in a World Cup final.
Mbappe racked up 13 goals in the Champions League before turning 20, the highest tally for a teenager. Paris Saint-Germain paid €180 million to AS Monaco for Kylian's signature, making him the second-most expensive player in the history.
The PSG striker is blessed with searing pace and possesses predatory instincts inside the penalty area. The 20-year-old's tidy dribbling combined with speed and goal-threat makes him a force to reckon with for the opposition.
Mbappe has scored over 35 goals this season for Paris, and the maturity in his game at such an early stage of his career only propels him in the right direction. The expeditious striker has the potential to influence games single-handedly, as he did for France against Argentina in the World Cup. Mbappe's blistering counter-attack compelled Argentina to commit foul in their own box, giving away a penalty-kick to France.
The French striker is a world-class operator for his club and country at an age where other players either hone their skills at youth-level football or gain loan experience. The Frenchman holder will surely achieve greater heights in his long and memorable career.