It may well and truly be an end of an era at the Ballon d'Or, with both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo taking a backseat this year. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema was the landslide winner, followed by Sadio Mane (Liverpool/Bayern Munich), Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City) and Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/FC Barcelona).

Many were disappointed when Messi did not even make it to the final list of nominations, but the former Barcelona star had an extremely underwhelming first season with Paris Saint-Germain. His historical achievements may still attract millions of fans, but his 2021/22 season simply did not make the cut.

Meanwhile, five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo was nominated despite his own miserable year with Manchester United. The fact of the matter is, even though the club as a whole flopped last season, Ronaldo was their top scorer and rescued the club on multiple crucial moment especially in the Champions League. This means that he still had an impressive season on a personal level.

However, Ronaldo's heroics were apparently not enough to impress a single journalist on the Ballon d'Or panel. According to French publication L'Equipe, Ronaldo's 20th place finish in the final ranking was not surprising because no one voted for him to win.

This is the first time since 2006 that Ronaldo has ever been outside the top 10.

In any case, it is starting to look like things may even be worse for him next time the Ballon d'Or ceremony comes around. He has been having a miserable season at United thus far, spending most of his time on the bench or throwing temper tantrums.

He will lead Portugal when they head to the FIFA World Cup next month, and a stellar performance there may be the only thing that could help bring a positive note to his season. For now, he appears to be at odds with Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, who has been insisting on leaving him on the bench for far longer than the player would like.

Ten Hag insists that he will continue to rely on Ronaldo, but it seems like the two of them are not on the same wavelength. The number 7 was even forced to issue an apology after he stormed off the field before the final whistle in their recent Premier League match against Tottenham. Ronaldo lost his cool after he was asked to warm up multiple times without being brought on by the manager.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo Getty Images