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Too much Messi? Coral’s Five alternative Ballon d’Or winners

The eternal sporting rivalry between Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi and Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has dominated Ballon d’Or proceedings in recent times, with the duo winning the last six awards between them.

Having swept almost all before them, and recorded astounding stats, there is little debate that one of the two deserved to be crowned as best player. However, UEFA president Michel Platini was recently quoted as saying it was time for a change, trumpeting German World Cup winners as alternative options.

Here, Coral writers present our potential top five rivals for the crown.

Gareth Bale
The fleet-footed Welshman has emerged out of Ronaldo’s shadow at the Bernabeu, to be ranked alongside him as the Spanish giants’ most threatening player, providing goals, assists and, also crucially, teamwork.

It was Bale, who, after all, showed incredible pace and skill to net the winner in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, before firing Los Blancos ahead of city rivals Atletico for the first time in the 2013 Champions League final.

Angel Di Maria
Now regularly pulling out the stops for Manchester United and dazzling Premier League defenders with his tricky feet and trademark curling crosses, Di Maria was also instrumental in former club Real’s triumphant Champions League win.

Los Blancos certainly needed Ronaldo’s goals to lift La Decima, but his old mentor Sir Alex Ferguson deservedly named Di Maria as Man of the Match in the final. The Argentine attacker, who was La Liga’s top assistant last term, was also arguably more influential in his country’s run to the World Cup final than compatriot Messi.

Mario Gotze
Platini has highlighted the importance of international performances as well as club outings in the criteria for Ballon d’Or nominations. The former three-time winner of the award stated: “The Ballon d’Or tends to go to a player who has performed exceptionally well at the World Cup, someone who won it, so this year it should be for a Germany player.”

Since neither Messi nor Ronaldo enjoyed a particularly memorable tournament, 22-year-old Die Mannschaft star Gotze could be in with a legitimate shout. Who better to lift the coveted award than the man who scored the World Cup final winning goal?

Gotze has used his experience on the world’s biggest stage to propel himself to new heights with Bayern Munich too, at the time of writing, netting six times in seven Bundesliga appearances this season.

Philipp Lahm
Former Germany skipper Lahm retired from international football in style with his World Cup win, but being the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro to lift the Ballon d’Or would certainly crown what was an incredible campaign.

The Bayern Munich captain has excelled in a variety of positions in both defence and midfield for club and country for years now, also enjoying silverware success with Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal medals last term.

His importance to Die Mannschaft has certainly been felt since his absence, with Joachim Low’s lads conceding eight goals in four games since the veteran’s decision to hang up his boots.

Thomas Muller
Muller can boast some incredible stats from last season to support his argument to be the recipient of the Ballon d’Or. The prolific predator popped up to score five goals for Germany (who are 7/2 with Coral to win Euro 2016) at the World Cup, acting as a false nine, and just narrowly missing out on the Golden Boot award.

Versatile and elusive frontman Muller may not provide too many clips of individual skill for highlight-reels of magic moments, but is ruthlessly efficient and effective for club and country, wherever he is deployed.

Still just 25, Muller has won the lot and found the net 26 times in all competitions for boyhood club Bayern last season. He has also begun as he means to go on this term, scoring five in 11 in all competitions.