Ballon d'Or 2017, LIVE: Cristiano Ronaldo set to win prestigious award for fifth time ahead of long-term rival Lionel Messi and Neymar
- The ceremony for the 2017 Ballon d'Or award takes place in Paris on Thursday?
- Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is the odds-on favourite to win again?
- Lionel Messi and Neymar will also be hoping to win the?prestigious award
The Ballon d'Or is awarded to the best player applying his trade in Europe, but is often considered the ultimate prize on a personal level for any footballer?— and this year's ceremony takes place in Paris on Thursday.?
There are seven Premier League players in contention to win the award including Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne?while Neymar, the PSG superstar, will also want to celebrate individual success.?
Follow all the build-up and the glitzy bash as it unfolds here with Sportsmail.?
Hope you've enjoyed following Sportsmail's Ballon d'Or coverage, even if the winner was a little obvious the announcement was pretty spectacular.
Quite the spectacle
1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
2 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
3 Neymar (PSG)
'Of course, I feel happy, it's a big moment in my career,' Ronaldo said. 'It's something I hope to win every year.'
It has not ye been announced which player had finished runner-up behind him.
One of the world's most famous landmarks sends congratulations.
But I'll have a go. After a countdown over some extremely dramatic music the broadcast cut to a wide angle shot of the Eiffel Tower. As the camera zoomed in a silhouette of a man with his back to camera appeared. Once the shot got close enough the man himself, Ronaldo, turned around clutching the Ballon d'Or and beaming from ear to ear. I have never seen anything quite like it, incredible theatre.
After parting ways last year France Football clearly wanted to stick it to FIFA with that one.
If you want to try and get a sense of the spectacle watch the video below. It's well worth it.
No surprise there
It's features highlights from all three players and there's some good goals in here but also a penalty and free-kick that should have been saved. Were they short of clips?
The ceremony is taking place at the Eiffel Tower, quite the location.
He's talking in French so at a guess I'll say he's talking about the award and the final three. Happy to be corrected.
Something must be about to happen...
Unsurprisingly it's Lionel Messi (Barcelona); Neymar (PSG); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).
Gianluigi Buffon goes out as the Ballon d'Or's top goalkeeper and fourth most voted for player. Not bad for a 39-year-old. Interestingly Buffon got 221 points, Modric, in fifth, got 84. Plenty of top three support for the Italian veteran looking at that point differential.
We had Kroos and Marcelo now we have Ramos and Luka Modric.
Sergio Ramos is by far the highest placed defender in the list, 10 places higher than team-mate Marcelo.
At 18 years old Kylian Mbappe is comfortably the youngest member of the Ballon d'Or top 10. Not too many players get that kind of honour just over two years after making their first team debut. What odds he's picking up the top prize sometime soon?
The Chelsea midfielder was overlooked for ex-Leicester colleagues Vardy and Riyad Mahrez last year but his second title winning campaign in a row sees him named eighth this time around.
Robert Lewandowski lost out to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Bundesliga Golden Ball charts last season but finishes 12 places ahead of him in the Ballon d'Or.
Despite a stellar calendar with Spurs Harry Kane cannot break into single digits but top 10 is nothing to be sniffed at. Although Jamie Vardy will be keen to remind his England team-mate that he was eighth last year.
If Ronaldo scoops the prize, he will equal Messi on five apiece but ahead of the big day, Valverde has admitted that he is not bothered about who wins.
After being asked about Ronaldo potentially winning on Thursday, Valverde told reporters: 'I don't value any prize at all. Everyone is free to give prizes that they believe are convenient to the players.
'The Golden Shoe, the Ballon d'Or… I don't know how many prizes exist. I'd rather not evaluate any of them.'
In no particular order: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus); Harry Kane (Tottenham); N’Golo Kante (Chelsea); Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich); Kylian Mbappe (PSG); Lionel Messi (Barcelona); Luka Modric (Real Madrid); Neymar (PSG); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).
Breaking down the names left in the running by club: Real Madrid (x3); PSG (x2); Chelsea, Tottenham, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona (x1).
And by league: La Liga (x4); Premier League, Ligue 1 (x2); Serie A and Bundesliga (x1).
Edinson Cavani is officially the third biggest name at PSG.
Isco has managed to force his way into a crowded first XI at Real Madrid and that's good enough for 12 in the Ballon d'Or.
Film night for the Suarez family instead of an evening in Paris.
Now he's fallen out of the top 10. No wonder Luis Suarez opted to skip the evening.
A couple of former winners in here. Also it's good to know that Kaka is still yet to reach 20.
If Kevn De Bruyne continues his current form he'll surely be in the top 10 next year.
No, not Messi, it's Paulo Dybala.
At 16 is arguably the world's best left-back - a title I have always thought of as being damning with faint praise - Marcelo. There are still four more Real players to come, including the favourite for the top prize.
The Real Madrid midfielder helped the club earn back-to-back Champions League titles and their first La Liga crown in five years back in May.
Antoine Griezmann follow team-mate Oblak after a 2016-17 season season where he netted 26 goals.
We're inside the top 20 and it's Chelsea Eden Hazard.
A panel of former goalkeeping greats in a poll for France Football magazine may have had him as only the world's seventh best keeper but the same publication's biggest prize sees David De Gea named in the top 20.
And there are two Liverpool men in the 30-20 rundown.
29: Dries Mertens and Philippe Coutinho
28: Edin Dzeko
27: Mats Hummels
26: Jan Oblak
25: Karim Benzema
24: Radamel Falcao
23: Sadio Mane
21: Leonardo Bonucci and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
The couple have been adjusting to life with a new-born baby following the arrival of their daughter, Alana Martina, less than a month ago.
She shared a snap on her own Instagram aboard the flight to Paris.
'Ready for another trip to Paris' she writes. No sign as to if she knows her son will be definitely be winning, however.
Lionel Messi has announced a partnership on his Instagram with one of the most underwhelming adverts you could see!
Sat in a plain, dark room with a laptop, Messi writes as a caption: 'Excited about blockchain and happy to join @SirinLabs as a partner'.
Worlds away from Ronaldo cruising through the sky to Paris...
So far in the calendar year, Messi has outscored Ronaldo by three goals, 52-49. That is partly down to Ronaldo's form of late which has not reached the electrifying level that has seen him win four Ballon d'Or titles to date. Messi has 52 in 61, Ronaldo 49 in 56.
It is, however, worth remembering that Ronaldo's performances have contributed to a Champions League and La Liga triumph. Messi's only silverware came in the shape of the 2017 Copa del Rey.
Not to be sniffed at, of course, but not comparable to the other two.
Earlier this week, pictures broke out across social media of the 'Quinto Triunfo' Nike Mercurial boots. Quinto Triunfo, in English, translates as 'fifth triumph' and alongside the silver and gold boots were the years Ronaldo has won the award - 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016 - and included 2017.
You can see for yourself below.
Should Ronaldo, as expected, be crowned winner today it will complete a 10-year cycle of dominance between himself and Lionel Messi in winning the award. But before those two entered the football stratosphere, who were the players who competed to be named football's top player?
Sportsmail has reflected on who won the award, and how, before those two emerged. You can read it by clicking on the headline above.
The Portugal star is heading to France for the ceremony in Paris and he is favourite to win the prestigious award for the fifth time in his career. After helping Real Madrid become the first club side to successfully defend the Champions League and also taking the La Liga title, it is easy to see why.
Earlier today, he shared a picture on his Instagram climbing aboard a plane with 'CR7' and his goal celebration emblazoned across it.
Good afternoon and welcome to Sportsmail's coverage of this highly-anticipated Ballon d'Or bash, which kicks of tonight.
There's plenty of pre-event build-up to keep you ticking over so stick with us and we'll do our best!
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