Just over two months left until the winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or is crowned. Virgil van Dijk was the favourite to win the award going into September, however, Lionel Messi’s surprise win at The Best FIFA Awards has thrown things up in the air. Here are how the contenders rank for the top gong.
#5 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Mohamed Salah’s name stirred up quite the controversy this past week when several voters accused FIFA of not registering their vote for the Egyptian for The Best awards. Nonetheless, the Liverpool star did not even come close to beating Lionel Messi, let alone enter the top three this year.
Salah had a season to remember last time around and he ended it by lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy. The Egypt international also finished as the top scorer in the Premier League, an achievement he shared with Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Liverpool star has carried over his form into the new season. Nonetheless, he remains an outside contender for the Ballon ‘Or, solely due to the form of his competitors.
#4 Alisson (Liverpool)
Alisson signed for Liverpool in the summer of 2018, with Jurgen Klopp spending a then world-record fee for a goalkeeper to complete his jigsaw. The Brazil international has backed up his massive fee by putting up performances of the highest order in the last season and a half.
The Brazilian shot-stopper finished the Premier League with the highest number of clean-sheets, one more than his compatriot Ederson. However, the Manchester City star did have the last laugh as his side beat Liverpool to the league title by a single point.
Alisson did finish his campaign on a high, however, as he won the UEFA Champions League with the Reds and then the Copa America with his national team. However, he is yet to play a full game this season, having suffered an injury in the league opener.
#3 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Cristiano Ronaldo is a physical anomaly. The superstar will turn 35 in February next year but is still performing at the topmost level. However, his body is indeed starting to slow down and the Juventus star has been contracting injuries with more frequency than ever before.
It was injuries that restricted Ronaldo to only thirty-one of thirty-eight league games last season. Furthermore, he also missed a few matches at the start of this season owing to a minor injury.
Nevertheless, in his limited appearances, the Portuguese international put in some brilliant displays. Ronaldo scored twenty-one goals in his debut season in Serie A and was on his way to the top scorer gong only to be ruled out prematurely.
He sits third in our Ballon d’Or power rankings, after losing out the UEFA Player of the Award to Virgil van Dijk and The Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year claim to Lionel Messi.
=1 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Virgil van Dijk has been a revelation for Liverpool ever since arriving from Southampton in the January window of 2018. The Reds used the money generated from the sale of Philippe Coutinho to finally appease the Saints into selling their star man. Since then, Van Dijk has been a permanent fixture in their defence and has completely transformed the side.
The Netherlands international truly showed his talent during the 2018/19 season, when he withstood siege after siege from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Eden Hazard. Furthermore, Van Dijk capped off his fine season by winning the UEFA Champions League and finishing runners-up in the Premier League and the UEFA Nations League.
The centre-back was on his way to the Ballon d’Or trophy up until August when he was crowned the UEFA Player of the Year. However, much to the surprise of the football fraternity, the Dutchman lost The Best FIFA Men’s Award crown to Lionel Messi, throwing the race wide open.
=1 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
A huge public outcry followed the 2018 Ballon d’Or ceremony, as it was revealed that perennial top-two finished, Lionel Messi, has been ranked fifth. It took the Argentine forward a few months to prove that he was deserving of much more.
Messi was unstoppable in the first half of the 2018/19 season. The Barcelona man scored goals for fun for his club side, eventually racking up a whopping fifty-one goals and twenty-two assists in fifty appearances by the end of the season.
Barcelona were looking unbeatable courtesy of their talisman and were eyeing a potential treble on the back of his form. However, disaster struck close to the finish line, as the Blaugrana were shockingly beaten in both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.
The two big losses, along with Argentina’s Copa America disaster, left Messi’s chances at Ballon d’Or hanging by a thread. However, a shock win at The Best FIFA Football Awards has thrown the Argentina captain back in the mix, who is, at present, neck and neck with Virgil van Dijk in the award race.