Real Madrid winger Cristiano Ronaldo had a dominant 2015-16 season, and Barcelona forward Neymar thinks that the Portuguese captain’s achievements are enough to clinch this year’s Ballon d’Or.
Last year, the Ballon d’Or nominations were dominated by two clubs. Eventual winner Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez were pitted against Real Madrid’s goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo, and it looks likely to be a similar situation this time around.
There’s no love lost between players from La Liga’s two superpowers Barcelona and Real Madrid, but the former side’s star forward Neymar reckons that Ronaldo is ahead in the race for the Ballon d’Or.
“Winning titles counts for a lot,” said the Brazilian Captain at an event organized by his sponsors Gillette, according to Brazilian publication Esporte.
“He’s won the Champions League and now the European Championship too. Maybe he didn’t win the Golden Ball, but he’s a great player. Ronaldo is no joke.”
It’s been a topsy-turvy season for Cristiano Ronaldo as he was part of a Real Madrid team that fell woefully behind Barcelona in the La Liga title race in the beginning of their campaign. Rafa Benitez’s Real suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat in the first El Clasico of the season in November. However, things took a turn for the better after the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as Real manager.
Los Blancos went on to win the UEFA Champions League and ended up one point behind La Liga champions Barcelona, with Ronaldo scoring a bunch goals. He finished the season with 51 goals, a sizable tally, but 8 short of Luis Suarez’s 59 for Barca.
Ronaldo redeemed himself on the international stage with Portugal. While Suarez could only watch on in frustration as Uruguay bowed out in the group stages of the Copa America, Ronaldo led his oft-criticized national team to the Euro title. His three goals and three assists were crucial to the national team in the run-up to the final. Only Antoine Griezmann, another Ballon d’Or contender, was involved in more goals at Euro 2016. (8)
His season ended in agony though as the 31-year-old winger was taken off within half an hour in the final against France after suffering an ACL tear.
The Real Madrid star’s double of European titles and half century of goals in the season make him a very strong contender for the Ballon d’Or this season.