Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has jokingly suggested Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo should have their own separate Ballon d'Or competition, with a secondary award handed out to the best of rest of the world's players.
Ramos made the suggestion in an interview with American Spanish-language channel TUDN released on Monday (h/t Goal's Chris Burton): "They could make a Golden Ball only for Cristiano and Messi, depending on the results, and another for the rest. In the end it would be better for football."
The two have dominated the competition since Ronaldo first won it in 2008, claiming every single title apart from 2018's.
Messi won his record sixth by narrowly beating out Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk this year, presenting the trophy to the Barcelona fans ahead of the 5-2 win over Mallorca:
He scored a hat-trick in the win, and his tremendous scoring form has him as an early favourite for the 2020 award, per the London Evening Standard's Ben Hayward:
Messi and Ronaldo have rewritten the record books since becoming superstars, amassing 11 Ballon d'Or wins or second-placed finishes each. No one else in history has won the trophy more than three times.
Real's Luka Modric is the lone man to reach the top spot during the duo's prime, courtesy of Croatia's run to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final and his role in Los Blancos' third straight UEFA Champions League title.
No defender has won the award since Fabio Cannavaro did so in 2006―in large part thanks to World Cup glory with Italy―but AC Milan defensive legend Franco Baresi thought Van Dijk should have won it this year:
However, it was impossible to ignore Messi's sheer scoring volume. The 32-year-old won his sixth European Golden Shoe―his third straight―by netting 36 goals in La Liga during the 2018-19 campaign. That meant he single-handedly outscored Real Valladolid, who finished in 16th place and scored 32 goals.
Ramos has made the FIFA FIFPro World11 team 10 times, including every year since 2011, but has never made the Ballon d'Or podium and seems unlikely to win the trophy during his career.
The 33-year-old discussed who might replace him when he decides to retire, naming Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt as a star for the future:
"In the end, comparisons are never good. There is a very good production line at Real Madrid, you must always keep that national base.
"In the market there are good players and the team can sign them. [Matthijs] De Ligt is a defender with a lot of promise, he needs experience, but he is a player of the future."
Ramos and Real will be in action on Wednesday against Club Brugge in the Champions League, before a crucial La Liga double-header with Valencia and Barcelona.