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The next Ronaldo & Messi? Buffon backs Neymar & Mbappe to dominate Ballon d'Or 'for 10 years'

17:40 SAST 2019/01/19
Neymar Kylian Mbappe Paris Saint-Germain January 2019
The 40-year-old goalkeeper has been impressed by his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates and believes they can develop into the best players in the world

Gianluigi Buffon has tipped Paris Saint-Germain team-mates Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to dominate the Ballon d'Or for the next 10 years.

Since 2008, the award had been dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who were named world player of the year five times each until Luka Modric brought their duopoly to an end by claiming the 2018 title.

Although Messi and Ronaldo remain in incredible form for Barcelona and Juventus, their time as the big contenders for the accolade may be over, with a new generation of players mounting a challenge.

And Buffon believes that his team have two players capable of stepping up to replace them at the pinnacle of the game, backing his fellow stars to share the award in a similar vein as the global icons.

But while Ronaldo and Messi have been in competition with each other for years, Buffon believes Neymar, 26, and Mbappe, 20, work well together and can help each other out along the way.

"I think they are made for one another," the Italy legend told Marca. "They have different characteristics. Neymar is more a tightrope walker with the ball, while Kylian is a guy with pace, power and an eye for goal. They are complementary. If they are smart, the Ballon d'Or can be theirs to share for the next 10 years."

He added: "Neymar can become number one. I had never worked with him and always had him as a rival, but from a technical point of view he is incredible.

"I love seeing such good players and you realise that people spend money on tickets to watch players like him. But we have other great players too, and Kylian Mbappe is an absolute phenomenon.

"There are others that make us believe we can challenge in the Champions League. We have two stars and a group of strong players, and that gives us strength."

After Buffon joined PSG from Juventus, the Italian side snapped up Ronaldo in a shock move from Real Madrid.

Although he is happy in Paris, the 40-year-old admits he would have liked to have played in the same team as Ronaldo and believes the Turin side are the new favourites to win the Champions League.

"I wasn't surprised because I understand the desire of a champion like him to change and look for other challenges," he said. "After so many years in the same place you have a need for other motivations and challenges.

"It would have been nice to play with him because it makes you better, but I arrived here and there are players like Neymar, Mbappe, Thiago Silva and Marco Verratti, great players that make me happy in the same way.

"Juventus, as a team, are the strongest. In the Champions League nobody can be sure they will win it and there are always three or four stronger teams so winning depends on small details."