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Ballon d'Or 2019: Ranking the top five favourites for the award

More often than not, it just comes down to individual brilliance in football. Here are the top five favourites for Ballon d'Or 2019!

Last updated: 20.06.2019
Ballon dor 2019 Ranking the top 5 | Sports Social Blog

Two big finals saw an end to this stunning footballing season in Europe. A season that was filled with late turnarounds, nervy extra-time moments and great comebacks, but at last it was some composure that saw Liverpool cross the final hurdle of its exquisite journey in Europe. It was an all English final in both Europa and Champions Leagues, with Liverpool beating Tottenham 2-0 to clinch the UCL at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. While Chelsea thrashed Arsenal by 4-1 in Baku to earn their first piece of silverware in Europe since their Champions League triumph in 2012. Now the Ballon d'Or is a major point of discussion around the footballing world.

Luka Modric with the Ballon d'Or in 2018

Ballon d'Or is the most awaited award as far as the fans are concerned. It, in simple terms, means the best individual performer throughout the year. After Ronaldo and Messi literally owned the award for a good period of the last decade, it was finally Luka Modric who broke the monopoly last year. The thing which garnered much limelight was Messi finishing fifth in the race. A lot of fans and former players came forward to criticize the procedure of the award. Although there is a lot of politics that is involved which questions its credibility in the first place. But you just cannot take away its popularity among the masses.

Although players like Sergio Aguero, Jadon Sancho, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Eden Hazard, Robert Lewandowski, and Mohamed Salah enjoyed an excellent season, these five players stood above the rest and are in the run for the award:

5. Sadio Mane, Liverpool: Often overshadowed in the Liverpool squad is the high flying Senegalese star. In a team consisting of high profile names like Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, who would have guessed it that Mane would be making this list? Such has been his importance in the final third of the pitch for Liverpool. When Salah and Firmino struggled for goals, it was Mane who came forward and took charge. The former Southampton attacker finished the season with career-high stats of 22 goals in the Premier League and won the Golden Boot alongside Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He is way behind Messi and Mbappe in terms of the number of goals and assists, but his importance in the side is invaluable. A striker who gives in his all on the ground, be it pressing or providing cover. He does it all and more. He could finish in the top three for sure.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus: He was down and out of this list for a long time ever since Juventus fell to Ajax in the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League. But you just cannot keep him out of the picture. After claiming a domestic double with Juventus in Italy, the Portuguese were ready for the challenge in the UEFA Nations League too. Scoring a thumping hat trick against Switzerland to book a berth in the final for Portugal. And led his side to a 1-0 victory over the Dutch in the final too. He is certainly the man for the big occasions. Scoring a whopping 21 league goals in his first season in Italy while also managing to add six to his name in Europe. After Ronaldo and company won the inaugural edition of the UEFA Nations League, he has become a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or again.

3. Kylian Mbappe, PSG: Arguably the most promising young player in the world, Mbappe has been scoring goals for fun in this campaign too. He certainly hasn't looked back after his record transfer from Monaco to PSG. He was an integral part of a France side that won the World Cup back in 2018. He challenged Messi for the Golden Shoe but agonisingly fell short by 3 goals at the end. He did score 33 league goals, while also scoring four in Europe. Although, it has been a season to forget for PSG where they were beaten by Manchester United in the Round of 16 of the UCL and also fell to Rennes in the French Cup final. But it was his individual brilliance that stood out among the rest. One could only guess that he will have every chance of winning it sooner rather than later.

2. Lionel Messi, Barcelona: Just like every other year,  Barcelona heavily relied on the shoulders of Lionel Messi. And he was carrying the team with great Enigma and responsibility. They had their one feet in the UCL final with a 3-0 first leg victory to their name. Buried the La Liga title by that time and looked firm in the final of the Copa Del Rey too. But Liverpool did hit them hard. They ended up not only losing to Liverpool on aggregate in the UCL Semi-final but also lost to Valencia in the Copa Del Rey. Judging by their standards in world football, it was a rather mediocre season, but there was certainly one man that carried them through to that stage. In a team packed with superstars, it was Messi only who they looked upon when in search of a goal. The 31-year-old from Argentina was phenomenal throughout the season and won his third consecutive Golden Shoe. And also became the first player to lift it six times. He also won the Pichichi award in La Liga. He was also the highest goal scorer and just 1 behind the top spot in the Assists chart in UCL. But will it be enough for him to win the Ballon d'Or for a record sixth time?

1. Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool: In an era where defenders rarely get the credit that they deserve, Virgil Van Dijk stood firm in his resolve and made a difference. He has been sensational at the back for Liverpool and received praises from every nook and corner. The Reds have been brilliant in attack for some seasons now, but it was their leaky defence that let them down on multiple occasions. But this season has been a different story altogether, conceding only 22 goals in the whole Premier League campaign (least in the PL). And took the title race right down to the wire, losing only a single game in the meanwhile to eventual Champions Manchester City. The Dutch have been a towering presence in the centre of their defence. The 27-year-old won the PFA Player Of The Year too. He is the first defender since John Terry in 2005 to clinch this award. Liverpool finally won the UEFA Champions League this year after a nightmare final last year. But he failed the chance to add Nations League to this list too. This trophy could have ended this debate and put him at the pole position for this award. His leadership and ability to read the game just puts him in a different league altogether. Will he clinch the Ballon d'Or this year?

Can this be the year when a defender finally wins it, only time will tell!

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