BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 17:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona holds up the FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy prior to the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club de Bilbao  at Camp Nou on January 17, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Listing the Last Decade Of Ballon d'Or Winners (if Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo Didn't Exist)

Why do we always find ourselves talking about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo? Well yes, they are the two greatest footballers on Earth at the moment - and perhaps of all time. They do warrant the ludicrous amount of attention that both of them gain, but isn't it just getting slightly boring?

What if they didn't exist...ever? Imagine what the world would look like. We won't go as far as claiming that the planet would be run by dolphins but something similar wouldn't be too much of a stretch.

One thing we can call is how the prestigious Ballon d'Or award would've worked out, and it makes for one hell of an interesting read...

10. 2008: Fernando Torres

It's hard to remember all the way back to not only when Fernando Torres was good, but when he was world class. His debut season for Liverpool in the 2007/08 campaign was something else.

Before the £50m deadline day move that quite honestly ruined his career, the Spaniard was different gravy.

In his first term at Anfield, he became the Premier League's highest scoring foreign player in their debut season with 24 goals - one more than Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistelrooy in his first year. He also finished joint second place for the league's golden boot that season, and continued his fine form into the rest of 2008, picking up the European Championship with Spain along the way.

Imagine Fernando Torres having won the Ballon d'Or.

9. 2009: Xavi

If Xavi has £1 for every assist he made in the 2008/09 season, he'd have earned himself £29, or a copy of Football Manager 2009 - where the game first introduced 3D pitches. Exciting.

The point here is that Xavi was really good at helping people score goals in 2009. Along with the Spanish treble (and Champions League player of the year award), Xavi assisted four goals in Barcelona's incredible 6-2 El Clasico victory over Real Madrid in 2009. 

Xavi should have won the Ballon d'Or. It's a crying shame that he didn't.

8. 2010: Andres Iniesta

The only thing more tragic than Iniesta's failure to win the Ballon d'Or at least once in his career is his hairline; or at least, was. The poor fella lost it years ago.

However, back in 2010, similarly to how he was desperately holding on to his fleeting dark hair, Iniesta was still clutching at the idea that he would one day win the coveted individual award.

His biggest claim to the title came in 2010, after scoring the World Cup winning goal and dedicating it to his late friend Daniel Jarque. In a midfield duo with Xavi, Iniesta was becoming the hub of the Barcelona squad with his dribbling and passing ability, and if it wasn't for Barca teammate Messi, he'd have got his hands on the Ballon d'Or.

7. 2011: Xavi

Xavi's influence on the world stage can never be put into disrepute. A top three finish in the Ballon d'Or proceedings three years in a row shows exactly that.

The Spaniard put in a top notch display during Barcelona's Champions League final against Manchester United that year, and started the 2011/12 season well on his way to completing his highest ever goals tally in a season.

A true legend of the game. It's also worth mentioning that it was 2011 in which Xavi became Barca's highest ever capped player, so fair play for that.

6. 2012: Andres Iniesta

Here returns Iniesta - this time with even less hair than he had two years prior.

It appears that if Messi and Ronaldo didn't exist, the Barcelona duo in Iniesta and Xavi would've created their own little domination over the space of four years. Quite rightly too, with both of them playing an enormous role in Pep Guardiola's incredible Barcelona side.

5. 2013: Franck Ribery

What a season Franck Ribery had in the build up to the 2013 Ballon d'Or.

His involvement in 34 goals that term was accompanied by no fewer than four trophies; completing the quadruple with the Bundesliga, Champions League, German Super Cup and DFB-Pokal.

Ribery's since come out and blamed the French media for him failing to win the award - and with eventual winner Ronaldo only having a Spanish Super Cup to his name, it's easy to see why.

4. 2014: Manuel Neuer

Ribery's Bayern Munich teammate Manuel Neuer would've been the next to claim the trophy had it not been for Messi or Ronaldo.

The German spent 2014 stamping his name down as the best goalkeeper on the planet, and would've been the first man between the sticks to have won the Ballon d'Or since Lev Yashin in 1963.

Despite winning the DFB-Pokal and Bundesliga in 2014, the German number one was best recognised for helping his nation lift the World Cup trophy, a feat that landed him third place in the Ballon d'Or runnings that year.

3. 2015: Neymar

This truly was an exceptional season for Barcelona; especially for Neymar, who helped form the deadly trio of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez (MSN). 

More than adequately playing his part in abundance, Neymar spent 2015 asserting himself on the European stage, announcing his brilliance on the ball to the entire world and began to make a name for himself that will resonate for a long time to come.

It's widely expected that Neymar will take over from the Messi and Ronaldo reign of terror, and these last few years have shown why.

2. 2016: Antoine Griezmann

Though Griezmann was a hit at Real Sociedad, he never really staked his claim for world class ability until he made the switch to Atletico Madrid, turning in performances of the highest calibre at the Vicente Calderon before the stadium was retired.

Filling Diego Costa's incredible goalscoring shoes was never going to be easy, but the Frenchman managed it whilst still considered a youngster, and Griezmann has a bright future ahead of him.

1. 2017: Neymar

You may have heard of a £200m move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain over the summer. It didn't get much coverage, but it was this man again making the switch and becoming the world's most expensive player.

Though reports are claiming that Neymar is struggling to adapt to life in France after falling out with Edinson Cavani, the Brazilian has been on fire.

2017 saw Neymar bag 17 goals and 12 assists for his new club alone. All of that in four months shows exactly why Neymar would've claimed his second Ballon d'Or had Messi and Ronaldo not been around to nick it.

So there you have it. How different things would be.

Fernando Torres finally being recognised for his brilliance once upon a time, and four years of domination from Barcelona duo Iniesta and Xavi - the competition would still actually seem like a contest to all footballers.