While most people would argue that Lionel Messi is the best football player in the world, the bookmakers are anticipating a changing of the guard as far as the Ballon d’Or is concerned, with the Argentine only third favourite to win the accolade once again.
Messi has monopolised the Ballon d’Or since 2009, scooping the prize on four consecutive occasions although the 2013 award looks set to go to Franck Ribery or Cristiano Ronaldo according to the latest odds.
Ribery was part of the triumphant Bayern Munich team that won the Champions League last term and the Frenchman is no bigger than 11/10 with Paddy Power online to claim the 2013 Ballon d’Or, with the winger also helping the Bavarian side win the Bundesliga title.
However, the likes of Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm might also attract some of the Bayern vote and that could open the door for Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi to claim the spoils instead.
Ronaldo will clearly get plenty of votes from international managers all over the world and he’s 2/1 with Ladbrokes to cast off his bridesmaid tag and finally claim a Ballon d’Or, having performed to a consistently high level and achieve a phenomenal strike rate for Real Madrid.
However, Messi will remain highly-regarded even if Barcelona were humiliated by Bayern in the Champions League when they lost by an aggregate score of 7-0, with the forward bidding for an incredible fifth Ballon d’Or.
It appears to be a three-player race for the accolade considering Zlatan Ibrahimovic is next in the betting at 33/1, even if the Swede is regarded as the best in the world by some coaches including Arsene Wenger who currently rates the PSG forward as better than Messi and Ronaldo.
Arjen Robben, Neymar and Robert Lewandowski are also among the nominees, while Gareth Bale is as big as 100/1 after a sterling season in a Tottenham shirt and the Welshman could be a future winner of an award which goes to the most outstanding player each year.
The result of the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or will be revealed on 13 January 2014 in Zurich, with three voters per FIFA member federation, one journalist and the coaches and captain of the national men’s team.