7 Footballers Who Would Have Won the Ballon d'Or if Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo Didn't Exist
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the very best footballers of all time, arguably even surpassing the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona in the pantheon of the sport's greats.
Between them, the unstoppable pair has won every single Ballon d'Or award as the best player in the world going back to 2007. It is an unprecedented level of dominance that has seen many players, who in normal circumstance would be absolutely deserving of the prize, not get the recognition their talent might have received in a different era.
The following seven players have never won the Ballon d'Or and at least five of them never will because of what Messi and Ronaldo have achieved.
Xavi (Barcelona & Spain)
Barcelona midfield maestro Xavi had been a first-team player since the late 1990s when he was promoted from the youth ranks by coach Louis van Gaal. But it wasn't until the mid-2000s when Frank Rijkaard and later Pep Guardiola took over that he flourished into the world-class superstar we remember him as today.
Xavi was a star of Barcelona's 2008/09 treble-winning side, following that up by playing an equally important role in Spain's 2010 World Cup winning squad. He would surely have been a Ballon d'Or winner in any other generation.