The Death of Football’s Greatest Oligarchy?

Andrews Crossley, Reporter

The most prestigious award in international football, the Ballon d’Or, is given annually to the best performer of that year. For the last decade this award has been awarded to, by considerable margins, one of today’s two titans of the footballing world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. These two forwards have dominated world football for the last decade and have kept captive the trophy, really only competing with each other. Slowly but surely, Messi and Ronaldo are entering the age bracket in which players decline from their former glory and bit by bit have their dominance dwindle. Observers of the sport have watched and waited, sad to see their heroes begin to stumble (albeit extremely gradually) yet eager to see the rise of the new generation. For this reason, 2018 is a year to remember, as the awarding of the trophy to Luka Modric marks the first time since 2007 that a man that who wasn’t either Messi or Ronaldo has won the ballon d’or.

Luka Modric, the 1.72 m, 33 year old, Croatian playmaker, has had the season of his career and ended it with recognition by way of the most distinguished trophy an individual footballer can win. The player has had a stellar season at both club and national level. He played a massive role in winning the 2017-2018 Champions league with Real Madrid, as he controlled Real’s midfield and produced a plethora of game winning chances. Modric also successfully captained his Croatian team to a unexpected but duly deserved silver medal at the 2018 Fifa World Cup, where he put in a valiant and phenomenal effort and performance which merited a better result. Though Luka Modric taking the trophy from the hands of the previous victors has important significance for the next generation of footballers, perhaps what is most compelling comes in the form of the 3rd, 4th, 6th place and 7th place finishers.

With Luka Modric taking 1st place, Cristiano Ronaldo taking 2nd place and Lionel Messi settling in as a not-so-glamorous 5th, the rest of the positions in the top 7 were home to some of the younger generations of football. Raphael Varane, the 25-year-old French centre back, placed 7th, right behind Mohamed Salah, who had just completed the season of his life and is a superstar in his own right. Antoine Griezmann, the versatile 27-year-old French forward, took 3rd place and perhaps the most interesting of all, Kylian Mbappe, the 18 year old wonderkid and PSG winger who is a forward with potential to be one of the best of all time, claimed an esteemed 4th place as well as the Kopa award. This list of future stars, slowly creeping up the rankings and slowly cementing their presence on world football, are the heroes of the future. This change in Ballon d’Or ranking symbolises the passing of the torch from the stars of today to the victors of tomorrow.