Former Atletico Madrid striker Kiko is certain that Antoine Griezmann will be battling with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win the 2016 Ballon d’Or.
Griezmann, 25, has emerged as a challenger to Ronaldo and Messi, who have won the last eight Ballon d’Or awards between them, thanks to his outstanding performances for Atletico and France over the last 12 months.
Current holder Ronaldo remains the bookies’ favourite to keep it again this year, after Real Madrid won last season’s Champions League and Portugal beat France in the Euro 2016 final.
But, speaking as he was presented as the latest of La Liga’s official ambassadors, Kiko, who now works as a Spanish media pundit, told Marca that Griezmann’s quality and workrate now meant he deserved to be spoken about as one of the world’s very best players.
“I see Griezmann has a chance,” Kiko said. “Messi is apart from everyone else, but [Griezmann] is up there with them all. I have no doubt he will be up there battling with Cristiano, [Gareth] Bale, Messi. When do you see a ‘crack’ working back so hard to help his full-backs?”
This year’s voting has become less clear cut after France Football ended its six-year association with FIFA in September. The split means that this year’s Ballon d’Or will be voted on exclusively by journalists, with national team coaches and captains no longer involved.