The modern era has been blessed with some of the finest footballers of all time and the 2010s, in particular, will be remembered for centuries, as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two players who are widely regarded as the greatest of all time, dominated the decade with their brilliance.
The Ballon d'Or, which is the most personal accolade in the world of football, was initially a FIFA showpiece but since 2016, France Football host the annual event, as the best footballers are judged based on their performances by journalists, national team coaches and captains from across the globe.
Messi and Ronaldo won 9 of the last 10 editions of the award, with Croatian maestro Luka Modric the only other player to win the Ballon d'Or aside from the pair in the 2010s. By winning the award in 2018, Lukita, as he's fondly referred to, became the first player since Kaka 10 year earlier to break the duopoly held by the pair, a mammoth achievement considering the era of dominance by the two fierce rivals.
Several players have come close to getting their hands on the coveted prize, and some have even cried foul after missing out on the award, as has been the case with Frank Ribery and Wesley Sneijder in the 2010s. Here, we try to rank each Ballon d'Or winner from the past decade, based on their performance in that said year, the competition faced and dominance on their way to picking up the prized accolade.
#10 Luka Modric, 2018
By winning the award in 2018, Luka Modric became the Croatian footballer in the history of the spot to win the award and he did so in incredible fashion, as he spearheaded Real Madrid to their third successive UEFA Champions League triumph and lead the Croatian national team to a second-place finish in the 2018 edition of the FIFA World Cup, where he also picked up the FIFA Golden Ball for his exemplary showing in the tournament.
Modric is widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation and he beat Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo to the award in 2018, with Messi sensationally being ranked as the 5th best player in the world at the time, much to the dismay of football fans across the globe.
2018 Ballon d'Or 1st place - Luka Modric: 753 votes
2018 Ballon d'Or 2nd Place - Cristiano Ronaldo: 478 votes
2018 Ballon d'Or 3rd Place - Antoine Griezmann: 414 votes
#9 Cristiano Ronaldo, 2016
In 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo produced a stunning showing for club and country, as he won the Ballon d'Or for the 4th time in this career, which is the most of any European player in the history of the sport.
The Portuguese superstar was at his destructive best and scored goals at an almost unstoppable rate, as he carried Real Madrid to their second UEFA Champions League crown in as many years and topped it off with a stunning showing in UEFA Euro 2016, as Portugal defied the odds and won the tournament for the first time in their history, with Ronaldo as captain.
2016 Ballon d'Or 1st Place - Cristiano Ronaldo: 754 votes
2016 Ballon d'Or 2nd Place - Lionel Messi: 316 votes
2016 Ballon d'Or 3rd Place - Antoine Griezmann: 198 votes