Lionel Messi is a magician on a football pitch and has won an unprecedented six Ballon d'Or trophies as well countless other accolades.
But the Barcelona legend has reached the age of 33 and his career at the very top will shortly be winding down and coming to an end.
Messi appears aware of this fact more than most, and when, in 2018, he was asked to name the players he believes are hot on his heels – and more than capable of beating him to that year's Ballon d'Or – the Argentine named four individuals.
"There are many great players around today who can win the Ballon d'Or," Messi told WorldSoccer Magazine in 2018. "In recent years there have just been two, but now players like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Luis Suarez can compete."
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Messi finished fifth in the race for that season's Ballon d'Or with Luca Modric winning the top prize, Cristiano Ronaldo coming second and Antoine Griezmann placing third.
He clawed it back in 2019, winning a sixth trophy, beating Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo to the top prize that season.
So how have the players Messi named fared since his endorsement? And are they any closer to taking the Argentine's baton when he eventually stands down?
Suarez is perhaps the most unlikely player to win a Ballon d'Or from the above list given he is now 33 years old and has left Barcelona for Atletico Madrid.
Ronaldo is also quite unlikely to ever win the trophy again, although even at 35 the Portuguese can never be written off too quickly.
At 28, Neymar should be at the peak of his powers, but his career has never really got back on track following its initial dip at Paris Saint-Germain.
In 2019 he didn't rank in the top 28 candidates for the Ballon d'Or but did pull things back last season, helping PSG reach the Champions League final.
Injuries have really hampered the Brazilian in the past few years and unless he goes on a consistent and successful run of form he'll be overlooked again in 2021.
Mbappe is the final player named by Messi, and undoubtedly the most likely to take the Argentine's baton and win a Ballon d'Or in the future.
The 21-year-old has already won the World Cup with France and has played in a Champions League final.
Mbappe perhaps needs a move to a more challenging league to be recognised as the undisputed best player in the world, but if he's not already he's certainly there abouts.
Is Kylian Mbappe the best player in the world right now? Have your say here.
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