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01st Nov 2018

Michel Platini backs defender to win Ballon d’Or

The former Uefa president claimed it's never been easier to predict the winner of the Ballon d'Or than now, backing a defender to win it

Reuben Pinder

The last defender to win the award was Fabio Cannavaro

That was 12 years ago now, way back in 2006 when Italy won the World Cup after Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi.

Since then, no defender has won the esteemed individual award, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dominating the award for the past decade after Kaká won it in 2007.

But Michel Platini believes that is about to change. The former Uefa president has backed French centre-back Raphaël Varane to win the Ballon d’Or this year after winning the Champions League and the World Cup in the space of two months.

Varane will face competition from his teammates Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann for the award – it usually goes to a forward – but Platini thinks it’s never been more obvious who should win it.

“It has never been easier than this year to choose who is going to win the Ballon d’Or,” Platini said in an interview with RMC.

“It’s a Frenchman who is going to win the Ballon d’Or. I hope so. There’s only one player who has won the Champions League and the World Cup – it’s Varane. There’s always the Ronaldo-Messi debate, but this year there’s only one, one who has won all that, his name is Varane.

“He’s an excellent player. I would have voted for him, the results are the only objective thing, everything else is subjective.

“We can have opinions about Griezmann, Mbappé, [Olivier] Giroud, [Hugo] Lloris, Modrić… But the only one who has won everything this year is Raphael Varane.”

Asked which players he believes will challenge Varane for the prize, Platini responded: “The same as usual, even if I don’t know if Messi will be on the podium this time.”

“So, let’s say Salah, Modric, Griezmann, Varane, Mbappé — the French in general because they are world champions.

“But I will wait and see if all these players are still at the top in 10 years, like Messi and I have done, and like we continue to do.

“Still there, on the podium, since more than 10 years.”