Ballon d’Or: Argentina World Cup Hero Names 1 Player To Win Prize After Messi, Ronaldo Retire

Ballon d’Or: Argentina World Cup Hero Names 1 Player To Win Prize After Messi, Ronaldo Retire

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at November 2, 2023 at 9:49 AM
In this article:
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Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
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C. Ronaldo
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FIFA World Cup
  • Emi Martinez has named one player to succeed Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's legacy
  • The pair enjoyed an almost two-decade monopoly of the coveted Ballon d'Or prize
  • As Messi and Ronaldo near the end of their careers, Martinez has chosen their successor

Emiliano Martinez, the Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper renowned for his decisive save at the 2022 World Cup final, has expressed his confidence in Kylian Mbappe's potential to secure multiple Ballon d'Or titles, thereby following in the footsteps of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Martinez anticipates that the long-standing dominance of Ronaldo and Messi, who have monopolized the accolade of the world's best player for nearly two decades, is gradually drawing to a close, considering their current age in their late 30s.

Emiliano Martinez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ballon d'Or, Kylian Mbappe, Kolo Muani, France, Argentina
Emi Martinez has named Kylian Mbappe as the heir-apparent to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi's throne. Photos by Julian Finney and Harold Cunningham - UEFA
Source: Getty Images

As Messi boasts an unprecedented eight Ballon d'Or triumphs and Ronaldo holds a commendable five, the legendary rivalry between the two eminent footballers appears to be nearing its conclusion.

Despite maintaining an exceptional level of performance in their seasoned careers, the consensus leans toward the imminent transition of the sport's pinnacle to the next generation.

While the emergence of Norwegian goal-scoring sensation Erling Haaland and the promising start of Real Madrid sensation Jude Bellingham has stirred speculation, Mbappe, who secured the third position in the 2023 Awards, and Haaland, the runner-up, are prominently considered as the natural successors to Ronaldo and Messi.

Notably, Bellingham claimed the Kopa Trophy, a prestigious acknowledgement reserved for the best player under the age of 21, per Eurosport.

Having experienced firsthand the prowess of Mbappe during the World Cup final in Qatar, Martinez holds the Frenchman in high esteem, endorsing him as the rightful heir to Ronaldo and Messi's legacy.

“I have a lot of respect for him… when Leo and Cristiano retire, he will keep the way and will win a lot of Ballon d’Ors," the 31-year-old shot-stopper said as cited by Sportskeeda.

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Mbappe, Deschamps rattled by Martinez

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that the world witnessed another episode of the ongoing tension between Emi Martinez and French fans upon receiving his Yachine Trophy at the 2023 Ballon d'Or Gala.

Whether intentional or not, the cameras zoomed in on Mbappe and Didier Deschamps just as Martinez's save was being highlighted. Their expressions suggested they were not pleased, potentially reopening old wounds from the events of last December.

The coach and captain maintained stern expressions, likely recalling how the Aston Villa goalkeeper had celebrated after the incident.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.