Can these 10 Premier League stars challenge for next year’s Ballon d’Or?

first_imgThe Ballon d’Or ceremony takes place in Zurich later today with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi the hot favourite to dethrone arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo and claim his fourth title.Ronaldo and Messi’s Barca team-mate Neymar are also shortlisted for the award, but after the Catalans romped to five trophies in 2015 the Argentine is hotly tipped to claim victory.One noticeable aspect of the shortlist is the absence of any Premier League representatives for the sixth year in a row as a result of England’s elite clubs falling further and further behind their European counterparts.But could the Premier League launch a renaissance in 2016? Several stars have been in scintillating form in recent months – but could they really bring an end to Messi and Ronaldo’s era of dominance?talkSPORT takes a look at 10 players who could stake a claim and power ranked their chances – click the yellow arrow above, right, to see who made our list… 1. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – After an extraordinary year with club and country, Sanchez will have to go some way to improve on his exploits but, once he returns to fitness, the Chilean will hopefully build on his brilliant achievements. When fully fit, very few can rival his talents in the Premier League and that move away from Barcelona in 2014 has allowed for greater time in the spotlight where his ability can be truly appreciated. If Arsenal win the league this season, Sanchez will need to be an integral part of their bid. 10. Anthony Martial (Manchester United) – Martial, at times, has been the saving grace for United in a hugely uninspiring season so far as the 19-year-old has showed no signs of intimidation after that hefty summer transfer fee. If deployed in the right way, the Frenchman has the blistering pace and finishing ability to carry on setting the Premier League alight. 5. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – England’s sole representative in our list, Kane’s meteoric rise is showing no signs of slowing as the Tottenham striker reached 50 club goals on Sunday against Leicester. His no-nonsense style endears himself to fans across the country and, with a move to Real Madrid mooted in the summer, he could really put himself on the global map in 2016. 3. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) – Three seasons after his £42.5m arrival from Real Madrid, Ozil is finally exuding the class we all knew he occupies. The German already has an amazing 16 Premier League assists – just four short of Thierry Henry’s top-flight record with 19 games left to break it – and he is currently the inspiration behind Arsenal’s most convincing title challenge in a decade. 10 10 10 10 8. Willian (Chelsea) – Chelsea’s player of the season by a million miles has stepped out of the shadows of the likes of Eden Hazard and Oscar to, like Martial at United, almost singlehandedly keep the Blues afloat so far in a dismal campaign. He has added a killer instinct and cutting edge to his hardworking displays, including an incredible potency from free kicks which now ranks him as one of the best from dead-ball situations around. 10 9. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) – Although not at his best in recent months after being plagued by hamstring injuries, Coutinho is the kind of luxury player who, given he finds consistency, can challenge for individual awards. Under Jurgen Klopp, the ‘little magician’ should be allowed to flourish and you wouldn’t bet against him emulating his PFA Player of the Year award nomination from last season. 10 6. David de Gea (Manchester United) – Goalkeepers are largely ignored when it comes to individual awards but the success of Manuel Neuer – who finished third in last year’s Ballon d’Or vote – suggests more recognition may be on its way. De Gea hasn’t needed to be quite as impeccable as last season but his quiet brilliance ensures that he remains the Premier League’s standout stopper. If his dream move to Real Madrid materialises in the summer, the Spaniard may well put himself into contention. 7. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester) – Why not? The top flight’s player of the season so far epitomises the revolution taking place under Claudio Ranieri at Leicester so far this campaign. 13 goals and six assists in 19 Premier League games is simply electric form and, unsurprisingly, he’s attracting interest from European heavyweights across the continent. Could a big move propel him into global contention? 10 4. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) – When fit, Aguero remains the Premier League’s standout finisher but his injury record is proving a persistent obstacle to individual recognition. It is a travesty that the Argentine has never won PFA Player of the Year, let alone challenged for world awards, but if he can help Manchester City to domestic and European success by May, who says that can’t change this season? 10 10 10 2. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) – De Bruyne has shrugged off his sizeable £56m price tag after his move from Wolfsburg to register a brilliant 11 goals and 10 assists across all competitions in his debut season in England. The Belgian is incredibly clinical with his delivery and decision making, ensuring he has elevated himself to one of the finest playmakers in world football. A good Euro 2016 with Belgium could see him push the likes of Messi and Ronaldo close come this time next year. last_img read more