Liverpool claimed Champions League trophy for the sixth time with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham in Madrid and ended 2018/19 European campaign.
The Ballon d’Or is the ultimate individual award in football and it remains the dream of most players to get the award. European success usually acts as the key factor in determining the Ballon d’Or winner.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the award, however, this year everything has changed.
Here are three favourites to win the Ballon d’Or 2019.
Sadio Mane was a key player for Liverpool during the whole 2018/19 season in all competitions. The player was under the shadow of his teammate Mohamed Salah last year. Nevertheless, this year he accepted the chance to take the centre stage at the club.
Mane scored 26 goals and created 5 assists in his 50 games for Liverpool. Moreover, in the Premier League, he scored 22 goals and won the Premier League Golden Shoe alongside Mohamed Salah and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
The Senegalese international lift the Champions League trophy with the Reds and there are real chances for him to end the drought and become the first African player to win the award after 1995 when George Weah won the Ballon d’Or.
There is nothing to add about Lionel Messi. We just need to say, that the player has 5 Ballon d’Or awards and as always he has enjoyed an excellent season and helped Barcelona defend their La Liga title.
Messi won the European Golden Shoe for the third back-to-back season with his 36 La Liga goals. The Argentine also registered the joint-most number of assists-13.
Unfortunately, Messi was knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool in the semi-finals. Nevertheless, he ended the completion as a top goal scorer with 12 goals in 10 games.
Vigil van Dijk
You would struggle to find another player who has made as much of an impact as Virgil van Dijk has in 18 months for Liverpool. Van Dijk’s £75million arrival in January 2018 may be remembered as the starting point of a new era of success for the Merseyside giants.
PFA Player of the Year Van Dijk has cemented his status as one of the world’s best defenders this season. He is undoubtedly the strongest contender to rival Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or trophy.
The Dutchman averaged 1 tackle, 4.8 clearances, 0.8 interceptions, along with 3.4 aerial duels per game in Europe’s elite competition during the 2018-19 season. He also averaged 1 tackle, 4.8 aerial duals and 5.2 clearances per game in the Premier League this season.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk deserves to win this year’s Ballon d’Or after claiming the Champions League title, however, the player himself has made clear that he thinks the Ballon d’Or prize should go to Barcelona’s captain Lionel Messi.
“I think Messi is the best player in the world and I think he deserves it as long as he plays,” he told the press conference. “The Ballon d’Or is not something I am thinking of, but if it happens by any chance I will obviously take it. I don’t think there is any case and I think that Messi is still the best player in the world and it doesn’t matter if he isn’t in the Champions League final.”
Author: Alla Zakaryan