Even with so many adversities found on this year of 2020, at the end of this season FIFA will once again have to elect the best player in the world. On the return of football, have Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo saved their best for last?

ARE MESSI AND CR7 STILL CLEARLY THE BEST?

When we get older and we are able to tell stories to our grandsons, surely one of the perks of our generation is being able to brag about having seen Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at their peak. Just like those who were able to follow the performances of Pelé, Garrincha, Eusébio, Zico, Zidane and many other players with extreme quality.

We are living on a era dominated by this duo on the choices of best players in the world, between a FIFA partnership with a French magazine, the “The Best” and the “Ballon D’Or”, who have been basically all been awarded to the Argentinian and the Portuguese for over a decade.

Since 2008, with Cristiano Ronaldo taking the trophy, the duo already conquered 11 awards, only being dethroned once, with the controversial choice of the Croatian Luka Modric in 2018.

The Portuguese reached his 35th birthday while the Argentinian is already 33-years old. The final stretch of their careers is right around the corner and that intensity that we were used to seeing is naturally starting to slow down. Obviously these two are still on a different level in world football, but is the distance between them and all the others still abysmal?

Cristiano Ronaldo was making a good campaign for Juventus this year, scoring 22 goals since the start of the Italian Serie A, still in 2019. His displays in the Champions League, however, have been criticized and there has been a decline when compared to his peak at Real Madrid, with the player only scoring 2 goals so far.

As for Messi, he scored 21 goals on the 19/20 season of La Liga, and on the biggest competition of the continent, he also hasn’t been standing out, with only 2 goals as well.

In fact, the Argentinian has been trying to carry this Barcelona on his back, but the club also isn’t the same they once were.

Both of them returned to official matches recently, and criticism is already being heard in Spain and in Italy as well. Initial difficulties are natural, but the fight for the award at the end of the year is coming up.

NEYMAR, MBAPPÉ OR LEWANDOWSKI: IS THERE A REAL CONTENDER?

One thing is certain: Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi will be on the list at the end of the year, independently of what happens until then. The question will be who the challenger will be this time. Last season it was Liverpool’s defender Virgil van Dijk, elected the best defender in the world.

His position didn’t favour him and he was surpassed by Messi, who conquered his 6th award. This season we have some names that are good outsiders, having slight chances to fight for this prize.

Robert Lewandowski, from Bayern, has been gaining a lot of strength in the past couple of weeks, due to terrific performance of the German club.

A lot of critics are saying that Bayern is the team that’s playing the best football in the world right now. Lewandowski has been a true machine, scoring 33 goals in the Bundesliga, carrying Bayern to its 8th title. As for the Champions League, the striker already has 11 goals scored and he is the biggest favourite to win the top goal scorer award.

Neymar is an underdog. He had to withstand another year “stuck” to PSG, and this time he is trying to stand out more inside the pitch than outside of it.

He switched position, showing more versatility, and it has been working out well for him, at least on Ligue 1, where he has scored 13 goals and has 6 assists. Injuries have been affecting the career of the Brazilian for some seasons now and only the UCL title can help him match the level of the competition.

THE FUTURE OF THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD

Mbappé seems to be one for the future, and that will constantly be on the fight. In Ligue 1, he has 18 goals scored and 7 assists and in the Champions League he has been performing better than his teammate Neymar, CR7 and Messi. The French has already scored 5 goals and made 5 assists.

The certainty is that the final stretch of the season will be very important for the award that will be handed out in December. The famous Champions League, that will take place in Portugal, in August, should be the biggest deciding factor, and it will tilt the prize in the direction of Argentina, Portugal, Poland, Brazil or France.

Maybe I’m missing one or two players here, but I see these players being the ones that should come into this fight strongly. If Modric winning was controversial, I’m not sure if this time a choice outside the super duo can generate a big turmoil. The final stretch of the season will decide everything, and we just have to wait for it, and maybe root for our favourite player.

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