By 90Min
February 08, 2018

There are not many players in recent footballing history that can be spoken about in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. However, former Barcelona and Spanish international midfielder Xavi came closer than most. 

The legendary midfielder, who was voted into third place in the Ballon d'Or three times, has given his verdict on who he believes will be crowned the world's best in the years to come.

In a decade where the world's best player is a competition only a few have been able to come close to gatecrashing Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's monopoly, most of those nominated have not been able to sustain a consistent challenge to those two shimmering stars of the game.

Victor Fraile/GettyImages

Nevertheless, Xavi was closest to the Barça and Real stars on three consecutive occasions. Impressive at the best of times, but even more so in this era when the 'best of the rest' is all you can genuinely hope to achieve due to the calibre of Ronaldo and Messi.

When asked about future winners of the Ballon d'Or, Xavi gave his predictions when speaking to RMC Sport

Unsurprisingly, the 38-year-old World Cup winner picked his former Nou Camp team mate Neymar as one of his choices.

"I have huge respect for him, he's a fantastic footballer. When Messi and Cristiano lower their level, he will be the next Ballon d'Or winner," he said.

"When Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo retire, the debate about the best in the world will be between Neymar and Mbappe."

This news will not come as a complete surprise to many supporters and it is not exactly the most controversial of predictions, but the way both these young players are performing during this campaign can not be overlooked. They are both pushing their case as being recognised as the world's best in the years to come. 

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