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2016 Ballon d’Or: Who will make the top three

The Ballon d’Or ceremony next year is likely to again be dominated by the LaLiga players. More specifically, players from Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Cristiano Ronaldo enjoyed another stellar season at the Santiago Bernabeu as he netted 51 goals across the domestic league and the Champions League and contributed further with 15 assists to help Los Blancos to their 11th European Cup triumph.

To top it all, Ronaldo played an important role in helping the Portugal national team win the European Championship in France earlier this summer. It is the first major international honour for the Portuguese national team and it will definitely play a big part in voting for the Ballon d’Or.

With two major European trophies secured over the summer, Ronaldo is the leading contender for a fourth Ballon d’Or trophy. Despite some of the comments from leading figures in world football, including those of Atletico Madrid boss, Diego Simeone, who doubted Ronaldo’s credentials for the individual honour, it will be a major surprise if the forward doesn’t take the Ballon d’Or home for the fourth time.

The man likely to challenge him for the individual gong is the reigning world’s best player, Lionel Messi. The Argentine enjoyed a spectacular season of his own, firing in 41 goals and 26 assists, despite missing a couple of months of action due to injury.

He played an instrumental role in helping the Catalan club to a successful defence of the league title and the Copa del Rey. The reigning Spanish champions missed out on the Champions League after losing to Atletico Madrid in the semi-final.

Messi then enjoyed a fruitful summer with the national team as well, helping them to the final of the Copa America Centenario; however, he couldn’t help them take the decisive step as they faltered in the final for a second consecutive year against Chile and had to settle for a runners-up medal.

Had Messi came home from the United States with a winner’s medal around his neck, the Ballon d’Or contest would have been an even hotly contested one, leaving the voters much to ponder about their selection. Nevertheless, Messi still has a strong case for the award, owing to his consistency in all the tournaments that he participated in.

Luis Suarez enjoyed the best season of his career as he ratcheted up a humongous tally of 59 goals and 26 assists in all competitions. During the time that Messi was missing from the action due to his injury, Suarez and Neymar stepped up to the plate and kept Barcelona in contention for all the trophies.

Suarez makes a very strong case for the individual award, although his chances would be hampered by his inability to participate in the Copa America owing to an injury he suffered in the Copa del Rey final.

With everything taken into account, it will be a huge surprise if the trio of Ronaldo, Messi and Suarez do not finish on the podium at the 2016 Ballon d’Or – and, in that order.