Ballon d’Or: Power Ranking the 23 Finalists

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Sep 5, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Brazil forward Neymar Junior kicks the ball in the first half of a game against Columbia at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Young World Cup Superstars

7. James Rodriguez, Colombia, AS Monaco/Real Madrid

6. Neymar, Brazil, FC Barcelona

No player’s stock rose more during the World Cup than the player known as James. His meteoric rise came on Columbia’s run into the knockout rounds of the World Cup, where he wowed the world and earned himself a spot on Real Madrid’s roster after a record breaking transfer.

While Rodriguez was capturing the globe’s attention, Neymar carried the weight of a country on his shoulders and did so amazingly. All he did was lead Brazil into the semifinals (which he missed due to back injury) and finished third in scoring with four goals. While his club, FC Barcelona, suffered a disappointing season, it wasn’t due to his 15 goals and 11 assists. This season, he’s amassed nine goals already and is only getting better.

Need I remind you this duo is 23 and 22, respectively? We may be looking at the next generation’s Messi and Ronaldo.