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Five players we want to see win the 2018 Ballon d'Or, not Ronaldo or Messi

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Nicol: Not surprising Ronaldo won Ballon d'Or again (1:15)

Steve Nicol says Cristiano Ronaldo is well deserving of his fifth Ballon d'Or, which now ties him for most all-time with Lionel Messi. (1:15)

The 2017 Ballon d'Or is upon us and it's Cristiano Ronaldo who walks away with the prize once more. But who do we want to win the award next year? Not who deserves it, but rather who we'll like to see atop the podium.

Kevin De Bruyne and Mohamed Salah

They really can't be separated this season in terms of form, as goals and assists have flowed for Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively, but they are also part of a special club: the "deemed not good enough by Jose Mourinho" club.

As a result, the pair shouldn't be split when it comes to handing out the 2018 award and should be given the first ever joint prize. Then they can don their Mourinho masks, stride up to collect the gong at the glittering ceremony in full Jose attire and hold it aloft to prove him wrong once and for all.

David De Gea

You would hear the gasps around the auditorium as a goalkeeper's name is read out.... And that alone is why the world's best No. 1 should be handed the prize.

Goalkeepers just don't win this award. Lev Yashin was the last and only one to do so in 1963 and this has to change. Yes, it's not a glamorous life being a goalkeeper and you don't get to celebrate goals like Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and others, but ask Manchester United fans who their most important player is and the majority will say it's the Spain stopper.

Plus his winning of the award would breathe new life into the tremendous #thingsdaviddegeacouldsave hashtag. Notably, a space on his mantelpiece for the trophy.

Casemiro

There's always a lot of attention on double European champions Real Madrid, but very little of the spotlight ever finds the one player in the middle of the pitch who makes everything tick. In a move that could shake up the Ballon d'Or voting forever, Casemiro (ICYMI: he's the 25-year-old Brazilian in the Real Madrid midfield who makes all the tackles) should be rewarded for his hard work in 2018.

A triumph for unsung "water-carrying" heroes around the world would prove the old adage that anything is possible. And you could imagine Ronaldo popping round to his teammate's house to subtly etch his own name on the trophy instead.

Edinson Cavani

He is the lesser light of PSG's new strikeforce, but the Uruguayan would very much enjoy picking up the prize if it meant he got one over on €222 million new arrival Neymar.

There would certainly not be any more disputes over penalty taking duties if Cavani was the reigning Ballon d'Or winner and the look on the Brazilian's face as he is beaten to the trophy would be priceless. All the better if Cavani then used his newfound publicity to seal a lucrative move away from Paris.

Phil Foden

Imagine the scene... fresh from his triumph at the Under-17 World Cup and becoming the youngest English player to start in the Champions League (aged 17 years and 192 days), Foden cements his place in the all-conquering Manchester City midfield, takes his spot in the England squad for the 2018 World Cup and leads the Three Lions to glory.

Surely then he'd have to be given the Ballon d'Or -- at least before his fledgling career is ruined by injury and he follows the well-trodden path to inevitable decline before his 19th birthday.