The new year is finally underway with matches being played in extreme weather conditions in England currently whereas resumption after the winter break is about to take place in Italy, Germany and Spain in the coming days. Just like any other year in the recent past, one of the most prestigious annual awards in the sport is Ballon d’Or which is handed over to the best player of the last 12 months.
We have compiled a list of five candidates who in our opinion will be the most likely ones to fight it out for the prestigious award in the year 2020.
#5 Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane is one of the most underrated footballers of this generation. The 27-year-old has been sensational for the Reds ever since joining them from Southampton in 2016 and played a key role in helping the team secure UEFA Champions League triumph last season.
In the ongoing campaign, Mane has already scored 14 goals along with providing 11 assists in just 27 matches in all competitions which can show his worth for the current European champions. With Premier League title pretty much already in the bag, if the Senegal international continues to deliver in front of the goal, he can easily become one of the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or in 2020.
#4 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is now finally living up to the expectations of a prolific goal scorer. The French international has lived under the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo for long but since the Portuguese’s departure, he has now become the main man at the heart of Real’s attacking unit.
Benzema has already scored 16 goals in 23 matches in all competitions to go with seven assists. Real are currently placed second in La Liga and have an exceptional record in the UEFA Champions League under current manager Zinedine Zidane.
Therefore, if Benzema can help Real win a major trophy this season, he might well prove to be the ideal candidate to claim his first Ballon d’Or in 2020.
#3 Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
PSG’s Kylian Mbappe is being termed as the best young player in the world, and that too by some margin. The French international has been in exceptional form in the ongoing campaign as well where he has already scored 18 goals along with nine assists in just 19 matches in all competitions.
PSG are currently leading the table in the French league and they are also in the UEFA Champions League. That’s not it as UEFA Euro 2020 is set to be held in six months’ time where Mbappe will be a part of the French team who are one of the favourites to lift the title.
In all, if the 21-year-old can guide PSG and France to major titles in the next six to eight months, there is definitely no one stopping him from winning his maiden Ballon d’Or winner in 2020.
#2 Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is being termed by many as the best defender in the game at this moment. The Dutch international is definitely endorsing that point of view with continuous impressive performances for the Reds. Liverpool are currently leading the race in the Premier League and one of the reason is their solid defensive unit where Van Dijk is commanding his troops in the manner which is making it difficult for the oppositions to break them down.
The 28-year-old is currently involved in three different competitions with Liverpool and is likely to feature in UEFA Euro 2020 in the summer with his national team. Therefore, the former Southampton defender can very well find himself in a position to clinch his first Ballon d’Or award if he manages to help either of his teams win a major trophy in the next six to eight months.
#1 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi is one of the most decorated footballers of the last decade and is still going strong despite being aged 32. The Argentina international has already scored 15 goals along with nine assists in just 18 appearances in all competitions for the Catalan-based club which is a proof that he is still very much at the top of his game.
Anyone who has watched the Blaugrana play in the current campaign can easily conclude that Messi is far more important to the team’s cause now than he probably ever was before which is why the little magician can very well end up clinching his seventh Ballon d’Or award if he manages to guide Barca to a major trophy triumph in the ongoing campaign.