Haaland and Mbappe will not repeat Messi-Ronaldo Ballon d'Or dominance, says Vertonghen

By Sports Desk October 31, 2023

Jan Vertonghen does not believe there will be two players who dominate the Ballon d'Or during the next decade in the way Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have done.

Messi scooped his record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or on Monday in Paris.

The 36-year-old led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year, and also enjoyed a fine individual season with Paris Saint-Germain.

This Ballon d'Or will almost certainly be Messi's last. Since 2008, he or Ronaldo have won every edition of the award bar two, with Luka Modric taking it in 2018 and Karim Benzema in 2022.

Messi finished ahead of Erling Haaland – who scored 52 goals in his first season at Manchester City – and his former club-mate Kylian Mbappe, who played a direct part in 50 goals in all competitions for PSG and was the World Cup's leading scorer.

While Haaland and Mbappe have been tipped to fight it out for the award over the next decade, former Tottenham and Ajax defender Vertonghen thinks the days of two players dominating are over.

"I don't think it's going to be two guys dominating for the next 15 years," Vertonghen, an Athlete Partner for APEX, told Stats Perform.

"There are a lot of massive talents. Obviously, you've got Haaland and Mbappe already there for a couple of years, but then if you look at [Jude] Bellingham, what he's doing now, [Jamal] Musiala, I love him, Phil Foden, Vinicius [Junior].

"Those are the young guys. I hope one day a defender or even a goalkeeper [can win]. Thibaut Courtois was very close the year [Real Madrid] won the Champions League.

"I'm probably forgetting 10 or 15 more names. With Belgium, we have a great couple of young guys. There's so many, and I hope one day it could go to a Belgian one."

Bellingham enjoyed a strong season with Borussia Dortmund, though has taken his play up to an elite level since his move to Real Madrid.

The England midfielder finished 18th in the overall voting, with Bayern Munich star Jamal Musiala coming in 26th, 20 places behind Vinicius.

Kevin De Bruyne came fourth in the vote, and Vertonghen enthused over his compatriot's quality.

"Kevin, his passing ability is the one that stands out - you know that he is known for his assists and his vision, but he understands the game so well," he said.

"He knows how to use the space, where to run, he is very, very good in pressing which is something you don't really think of when you think of him, you think of assists, vision, scoring goals, but the way he is able to understand how a team builds up, he's just a genius of the pitch.

"Whenever I played against him with Tottenham, we would always try to build up on the other side because he's the one that will get the team going."

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