Cole: Messi, Ronaldo still top Ballon d'Or contenders

By Sports Desk December 12, 2019

Ashley Cole hopes the day will come when a defender wins the Ballon d'Or again but admits it is hard to envisage in the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi this year won a record sixth Ballon d'Or – edging him ahead of the five awards Ronaldo holds – when he saw off competition from Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk.

Dutchman Van Dijk has been inspirational for the Reds since he joined from Southampton midway through 2017-18, and he played a key role in their Champions League success last season.

Former England left-back Cole would have liked to see a fellow defender win the coveted trophy - awarded to the world's top player - for the first time since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.

However, he believes Barcelona's Messi and Juventus forward Ronaldo remain clearly the best players in world football.

"It's tough," Cole told Omnisport. "You want different positions maybe being credited with how good they've played in that season, but to be honest I don't think you can look outside of Messi and Ronaldo.

"What Messi does week in, week out is not normal. Again, the same with Ronaldo. It wasn't a surprise that Messi won it but one day, yeah, we probably would like a defender to win it."

One left-back who has impressed Cole in the Premier League this season is Ben Chilwell, who has been in fine form for high-flying Leicester City.

"I think, for me, him and [Liverpool's Andy] Robertson are the best two left-backs in the Premier League at the minute," Cole said, speaking on behalf of Nissan.

Chilwell looks set to become the regular starter for England heading into Euro 2020.

"He's playing in a good Leicester team, suiting his game at the minute where he can attack and he's got protection behind him," Cole said.

"Whether he starts for England? That's probably a question for Gareth [Southgate]. I'd like to see him start because I think when he has played for England he's played very well.

"He looks accomplished there. I'd like to see him start but that's down to the manager."

Nissan are proud partners of the UEFA Champions League. UEFA ambassador Ashley Cole was at the Chelsea FC v LOSC Lille match on Tuesday 10th December, along with the UEFA Champions League Trophy, which is being driven around the UK by the next generation Nissan Juke.

Related items

  • Pique urges Barcelona to 'fight to the end' in LaLiga Pique urges Barcelona to 'fight to the end' in LaLiga

    Gerard Pique urged Barcelona to continue fighting in LaLiga despite trailing leaders and rivals Real Madrid.

    Having won back-to-back league titles, Barca are four points adrift of Madrid after a 4-1 thrashing of Villarreal on Sunday.

    Pique called for his side to keep pushing ahead of hosting Espanyol in a derby clash on Wednesday.

    "We don't like to be behind in the standings, but we will fight to turn the situation around, knowing how complicated it is," the Barca defender told Movistar.

    "We will fight to the end."

    After a Pau Torres own goal and Luis Suarez strike, Antoine Griezmann scored his first goal since February, and Ansu Fati sealed Barca's win late on.

    Pique hopes Griezmann, who has netted 15 times this season, gains confidence from his goal.

    "Playing in this way makes the three of them [Lionel Messi, Suarez and Griezmann] closer to the goal," he said.

    "We feel more protected. In addition, Antoine's goal is very important so that he is confident."

  • Setien praises Griezmann after Barcelona forward ends goal drought Setien praises Griezmann after Barcelona forward ends goal drought

    Quique Setien praised Antoine Griezmann after the forward finally returned to the scoresheet in Barcelona's 4-1 LaLiga victory over Villarreal.

    Griezmann netted his first goal since February to go with strikes from Luis Suarez and Ansu Fati after Pau Torres' own goal as Barca pulled back to within four points of leaders and rivals Real Madrid.

    Setien was happy with what he saw from Griezmann, whose goal was his 15th in his first season at Barcelona.

    "He has associated himself very well and has been gaining confidence," the Barcelona head coach said, via AS.

    "I am very satisfied as I suppose he will be after the goal so beautiful that he has scored, reminded me of one of [Lionel] Messi's at [Real] Betis."

    Setien praised Barca's performance as they claimed just their second win in five games.

    "All teams are different. Today, we have had everything," he said.

    Setien added: "Other teams like Atletico [Madrid] or Sevilla, firmer in defence created more problems for us. Perhaps they were stronger than this.

    "This helps us a lot in confidence. We have pressed very well and we haven't allowed them to leave. We have made a very balanced match. I would have liked to be right before."

    Meanwhile, there was further controversy in Real Madrid's win over Athletic Bilbao as another Sergio Ramos penalty saw Zinedine Zidane's men claim three points.

    The spot-kick was awarded via the VAR and Setien said the system was becoming more confusing.

    "I understand it [the VAR] less and less," he said.

  • Messi has said he wants to retire at Barcelona – Bartomeu Messi has said he wants to retire at Barcelona – Bartomeu

    Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted Lionel Messi has always expressed a desire to retire at Camp Nou amid doubts over his future.

    Messi is contracted to Barca until 2021 but a report emerged on Thursday claiming the six-time Ballon d'Or winner wants to leave next year.

    The superstar captain put question marks over his future to one side on Sunday, producing a masterclass in Barca's 4-1 LaLiga rout of Villarreal.

    Messi reached 19 LaLiga assists for the season – his best tally in Spain's top flight – and Bartomeu was asked about the 33-year-old post-match.

    "I am not going to explain the details of what is happening every week. There are negotiations with many players," Bartomeu told Movistar.

    "Messi has always expressed that he wants to end his career at Barcelona."

    Bartomeu was also asked about under-fire head coach Quique Setien after Barca stayed within four points of bitter rivals Real Madrid with four games remaining.

    Two-time defending champions Barca are on track to be dethroned by Madrid this season, with Setien reportedly set to be axed.

    But Bartomeu said: "I know there are rumours. It is totally false.

    "Quique Setien has the confidence of everyone, of the players, of the board, he is doing a great job.

    "There are four games left and then we have the Champions League. We have important games to play this season."

    Barca face bottom side Espanyol in Wednesday's LaLiga derby.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.