Tuesday, September 27, 2016 | Updated at 4:45 AM ET


Ballon d'Or 2017 Predictions: Why Messi & Ronaldo Both Will Win One Best Player of the Year Award After FIFA / France Football Split

First Posted: Sep 16, 2016 05:11 PM EDT
Messi Ronaldo

Messi Ronaldo(Photo : Philipp Schmidli - Getty)

For the last eight years, Cristiano Ronaldo Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have taken turns winning the prestigious Ballon d'Or award. Ronaldo won the award in 2008 before seeing his rival take it for four straight years. Ronaldo then took it back for two more years before Messi won it last season.

Ronaldo was slated to win the award again this year, and still could, but it will come with a major blemish - Messi might also be crowned the best player of the year as well.

The Split

FIFA and France Football, which came together in 2010 to combine the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year Award, have had a break-up, meaning that for the first time since 2010, there will be two separate awards to crown the best player in the world. In the years leading up to the combined Ballon, the two also won both awards, but years earlier saw much controversy between the two awards.

The mechanics of the voting might play a part. The Ballon d'Or will now return to its original format, with only the press voting for the top star. The FIFA award will be voted on by national team captains and coaches.

Why Ronaldo Will Win One

Ronaldo was seen as the favorite to run away with the award this year, especially after winning the Champions League and Euro 2016 with Portugal. He was crucial to the success of both sides and had a few iconic moments to add to his resume from both tournament wins.

Yet many critics pointed to the fact that he was inept in the Champions League final and saw Portugal its title match without him. Those critics might now get a chance to vote against him and move to favor Messi.

Why Messi Will Win The Other

And Messi's performance in 2016 makes it hard to see Ronaldo as a runaway favorite by virtue of winning the big titles. After all, he did win more club titles than Messi in 2012 and still came up empty.

Messi has scored more goals than Ronaldo this year (41-34) for both club and country and more than doubles his assist total (27-11). Statistically, Messi is simply heads and shoulders above Ronaldo. He also recently topped Ronaldo for most hat tricks in the Champions League, and has started the 2016-17 season with more goals and assists (albeit in more games played). He also won the Spanish League, the Copa del Rey and the Spanish Super Cup. Throw in the fact that he simply looks more dominant and influential on the pitch and it is not hard to see why some might feel compelled to give him an individual award for his genius.

Critics of course will look back at his failure in the UCL and, more importantly, for Argentina in the Copa America. The Argentine led his club to the title match but he failed to make an impact and failed in the penalty shootout. Then he quit, inciting much criticism.

History Shows No Tendency From Either

But which award's voting group will pick which player? Or will they align behind one?

History remains a bit ambiguous here. The awards coincided between 2005-09 but saw major shifts in the years preceding with discrepancies between 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004. The only year that saw any consensus was 2002 when Ronaldo won; he won the World Cup that year.

And that might just be the major tie breaker right there. Fabio Cannavaro's World Cup win in 2006 gave him the two awards and Zinedine Zidane won both in 1998 after winning the World Cup.

Ronaldo won the major international trophy and major club trophy, so that could put him above Messi, who failed to win either. That said, Euro winners were not honored by both awards in recent history, with Zidane only winning one for his 2000 victory with France and no one from Greece's 2004 side being crowned. Even in 2008, no Spanish player from the Euro-winning side got a shot.

Of course this is Ronaldo, one of the greatest to ever lace them up and that alone could give him the edge in both award.

But of course Messi is also right there with him, not above and that alone might give him a split.

All bets are off, but it is likely that both win one this year. And if that happens, expect a battle from both fanbases over which trophy is more legitimate moving forward.

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