Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have established a monopoly over the Ballon d’Or. For past nine consecutive years, the trophy has been awarded to either the diminutive Argentine or the Portugese talisman. If either of them win the award next year, which is very likely, then it would be a decade since anybody other than those two had the opportunity to get his hands on the award.

Names like Wesley Sneijder, Manuel Neuer, Xavi and Andres Iniesta all have, at one point or the other, during the nine-year period had cases made for them to leapfrog Messi and Ronaldo to claim the honor but that just never transpired. Cristiano Ronaldo is the latest recipient of the Ballon D’or after leading Real Madrid to the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League success and winning the Euro 2016 with Portugal.

If and when the pair loosen their grip on the award, there are plenty of young players in the queue who may stake a claim to it and one of the names mentioned over the past few years has been Chelsea winger Eden Hazard. The Belgian recently spoke to Sky Sports and named which three players he thinks might put a stop to the Messi-Ronaldo domination.

“When Ronaldo and Messi retire, maybe it will be another couple of players like Neymar, Paulo Dybala or Antoine Griezmann, who knows? We will see. It is not something I think too much about.”

The former PFA Player of the Year was recently edged by his Chelsea team-mate to this season’s award. The Chelsea star also opened up about own aspirations on possibly winning the award someday.

“I hope to win the Ballon d’Or one day. It is in my mind. If I don’t, it won’t be a problem. I try to make a good career- the best I can- but I think some other players deserve to win it also. Could I win it? If I play next season, we win the Champions League and I win the World Cup with Belgium, why not?”

Neymar, Dybala and Griezzman have been the players to carry the torch forward and have been in Ballon d’Or discussions in the past two or three years. With several talented young players coming up such as the likes of Kylian Mbappe of Monaco and Dele Alli of Tottenham, it would be interesting to see who among these would take over the mantle from two of the greatest footballers of our generation to claim the prestigious accolade.

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