Gareth Bale has tipped himself to win the Ballon d'Or in the near future—the most prestigious individual award in football.
The Real Madrid star may be away from the glare of the World Cup, but he managed to keep his name circulating in the press by making the comments to his inner circle which ended up in Spanish publication AS, via Marco Ruiz:
“This season I’m aiming for the Ballon d’Or and to win everything with Madrid," he said. "I want to see Real Madrid as the best team in the world, no arguments.”
But can the former Tottenham forward eventually join the list of players to have won the prize which is awarded in January of each year?
Former Wales manager John Toshack certainly thinks so.
“Don’t let anybody doubt his ability or his talent or whatever because over the next four or five years you will see him at that Ballon d’Or picking one up," Toshack told Chris Wathan of Wales Online. "I’ve no doubt about that.”
However Bale's determination means he'd probably see four of five years as too long, so how soon could he be named the world's best footballer?
It's extremely unlikely—despite his role in the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals—that he will do enough to become the next incumbent of the Ballon d'Or.
The stage is set for somebody to make a name for themselves at the World Cup in Brazil.
In January, when Cristiano Ronaldo ended Lionel Messi's streak of four consecutive Ballon d'Ors, Bale received 25 votes, per Daniel Harris of The Guardian, finishing ninth with 1.32 percent of the votes.
You'd imagine that his role at the Bernabeu this year will see an increase in votes in his favour next time round.
And then, at the end of the next season, there will be no international tournament, so the following winner will definitely be someone who has impressed for their club.
And AS say, the "Modric effect" will see Bale, who struggled with injuries during his first season in the Spanish capital, progress infinitely:
Bale is looking for the ‘Modric effect’ who arrived in similar conditions (and from the same club), without having had a pre-season, which had a major impact on their performance.
Now, just like Modric, he wants a spectacular second season. He’s got 50 days of holidays (though he’s already taking care of his diet) and will use the last 10 to prepare himself for the pre-season itself, which will be the 30 days up to the Super Cup in Cardiff.
A starring role in a Real Madrid side that win the league, which is completely feasible, would propel him into contention, and if Madrid win an 11th European Cup with Bale as the catalyst, he'd be nailed on for a top-three finish.
Ronaldo and Franck Ribery, two of last year's top three, are not getting any younger, while there are currently question marks over how remarkable Messi is these days—even if they are preposterous.
Styles come and go in football, and while a possession-based game is by no means dead, it is fast, attacking players who are most exciting at the moment.
Bale is certainly in that category, and he's at the perfect club to construct a Ballon d'Or-winning campaign.
In January 2016, the world's most expensive player could also be named the world's best player.
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