Ballon d’Or 2019: Cristiano Ronaldo aims to win after changing his nickname

By Henry Rose, BBC Sport Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is the one you’ll be pronouncing as – “CURN-NAH”. Not the “CSON-NAH”. That’s the Latin word for rain, and there’s been more than a bit of…

Ballon d'Or 2019: Cristiano Ronaldo aims to win after changing his nickname

By Henry Rose, BBC Sport

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is the one you’ll be pronouncing as – “CURN-NAH”.

Not the “CSON-NAH”.

That’s the Latin word for rain, and there’s been more than a bit of it in the run-up to Sunday’s Ballon d’Or, where Ronaldo will again battle Argentina’s Lionel Messi for the top honour after 11 years of supremacy.

Last year, Messi took the trophy with 25.5% of the vote to Ronaldo’s 25.1% – a result disputed by some who feel Messi was robbed.

But five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, 30, now in his third season at Paris St-Germain, is so desperate to win that he has got it in his head that his latest is the one.

“I have made up my mind who is going to win,” he said at a school in France on Thursday.

“I can’t wait to wake up on Sunday morning. I’ll go to sleep later and will wake up the winner. It doesn’t feel any different to the previous years.”

But is Ronaldo’s back-room team telling him he has no chance?

Ronaldo is surrounded by protective staff in Paris to ensure he doesn’t act recklessly, like when he punched Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Ramos during a match last season.

The president of Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘red glove’ security firm has confirmed he and the star’s wife are tipped for a move to Monaco

There is also a false nail clipper to trim Ronaldo’s hair, a TV monitor behind his chair and an extra toilet for him in the shiny Louis Vuitton offices on his famous superyacht in Madeira.

For his part, Ronaldo has denied a move to Monaco is in the pipeline, describing it as a “rumour”. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner’s financial adviser Fabio Toscani has also put the kibosh on any interest in his client.

Ronaldo signed a three-year contract extension with Real Madrid last summer that should keep him in Spain until 2022, but he may not hang around for too long.

The Portuguese has continued to score goals at an astonishing rate of between three and four in each season in the last four, but he is no longer among the top five in La Liga.

Ronaldo – ‘old and fat’

While Ronaldo might not be receiving the accolades he was for so long – Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez are in the running for this year’s World Player of the Year – he’s still going.

Last season, he had the No 1 jersey as he moved to another Champions League club, PSG.

Even in football’s greatest competition, it is highly unlikely he will get the ballon d’or after Guardiola’s side added trophies at the Ligue 1 and Champions League levels this season.

“I’m 10 minutes into this press conference and we’re already talking about [who’s going to win the Ballon d’Or],” said Ronaldo.

City midfielder David Silva, now 33, tells BBC Sport he was young when he won it and wasn’t around to celebrate

“With Messi it’s a tough contest because he’s pretty much in all competitions and in every single minute he’s a magnificent player.

“The World Player of the Year is always the toughest award for any player to win.”

Youth policies

After winning the World Cup and Euro 2016 with Portugal, with just 25 goals between them, Ronaldo and Messi make more use of their squads.

Ronaldo has one main striker in Neymar – playing in central midfield has freed up his attacking options in attack, so there is a less of an imbalance in attack.

The pair are world-class players but why should Ronaldo be allowed to play more in midfield?

“It would be great,” suggested Nicolas Anelka, the former Arsenal and Manchester City striker.

A 30-year-old in central midfield in 2017. But not in front of an attack that is currently without the injured Ederson (injured) and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (not seen since the World Cup).

With someone like Marquinhos, 19, playing most of the games, it makes sense to give him the chance to play alongside some of Europe’s finest.

His team-mate Bernardo Silva agrees, saying: “I wouldn’t mind if he played me out of position, that would be good for me.”

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