Paris - Cristiano Ronaldo looks poised to seal his fourth
Ballon d'Or on Monday to get one over his old rival Lionel Messi in their
long-running duel for the title of world's best footballer.
It will be the perfect ending to another terrific year for
the Real Madrid star, who won the Champions League for the second time in three
seasons and then led Portugal to their first major title at Euro 2016 - albeit
he went off early injured and in tears in the win over France.
As has been the case for almost a decade now, the
31-year-old's main rival will be his nemesis Messi - but the Barcelona and
Argentine maestro has had by his own lofty standards a less-than-stellar year
for club and country with the top prizes eluding him on both fronts.
Never one to play down his achievements, Ronaldo was spotted
midweek in training having dyed his hair gold in anticipation.
It will be Ronaldo's fourth Ballon d'Or crown, one less than
last year's winner Messi.
"For me there is no debate. The Ballon will be for
him," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said after his talisman's
hat-trick saw off Atletico Madrid last month to underpin Real's domination in
"He showed it last season and he shows it again and
again. We expect a lot of him but he stands above everyone."
Despite such effusive praise Ronaldo, rested at the weekend
ahead of the Club World Cup in Japan, has had some negative headlines - not
least pertaining to accusations of tax evasion.
Denying any wrongdoing, he responded by publishing his
financial records on Thursday, showing last year he earned a bumper $240
"You believe I am worried? He who owes nothing, fears
nothing," Ronaldo told broadcaster RTP.
Ronaldo first won the Ballon d'Or in 2008 after Premier
League and Champions League triumphs with Manchester United.
But it was only in 2013 that he added his second - Messi had
hogged it before then - and Ronaldo made it a hat-trick the following year.
The first Ballon d'Or was won by Stanley Matthews, at the
time with Blackpool, who beat Alfredo Di Stefano for the inaugural title in
This year marks the end of six years of joint awards by
founders France Football and FIFA, which will revert to bestowing a
"Best" accolade of its own on January 9 to both male and female
The Ballon d'Or will henceforth be decided by a vote of 173
journalists while national team captains and managers will no longer have a
Monday's prize will be announced at 21:00 on Monday in
Paris, but Ronaldo is not expected to be present because of the Club World Cup.