Ballon d'Or: 5 La Liga players that can compete with Messi and Ronaldo in the near future
In the 62-year history of the Ballon d'Or, never has it seen the kind of domination that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have wrought over the last decade.
An award that has been won by all-time greats like Michel Platini (3), Franz Beckenbauer (2), Alfredo Stefano (2) has become a plaything for the eternal duo. Messi and Ronaldo have also been undoubtedly the greatest footballers ever to play in La Liga.
Such has been the dominance of these two footballing legends that the main focus for the Ballon d'Or discussions over the last decade has been the identity of the third best player in the world.
Various world-class talents like Xavi (3), Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta, Franck Ribery among others have had to watch from below as Messi and Ronaldo have swapped the 1st & 2nd positions ten times in ten years.
However, like every other good thing, these two legends are slowly approaching the twilight of their careers. Given the quality of players in La Liga not named Messi/Ronaldo, it is easy to infer that the league's production of Ballon d'Or winners (21 in total) isn't going to end anytime soon.
Here is a look at five top-class La Liga-based talents who stand a chance of winning the prestigious award in the nearest future.
#5 Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
The most talked about name in goalkeeping circles in world football, the Slovenian shot-stopper has shown enough since joining Atletico Madrid that he has everything it takes.
Fresh from winning the Europa League title last season, Atletico Madrid's manager Diego Simeone would by now be sick and tired about the constant speculation about his numero uno goalie but due to his star quality, there is no hiding place for the genius of the Slovenian shot-stopper.
An excellent shot-stopper who commands his defence efficiently and is able to initiate counter attacks with his long kicks and throws, Oblak is a goalkeeper with very few weaknesses and yet, it is frightening to note that he has not yet peaked.
He has the ability, the mental strength, and the confidence to become one of the greatest goalies of this generation and may just become the first goalie to win the prestigious award
His goalkeeping went up a notch last season and Atleti will be desperate to hang on to him if they wish to take the final step up and keep winning titles.