It’s early days in 2019, but the Ballon d’Or has already become a topic of discussion.
The fact of the matter is that France Football place far greater impetus on the back end of that year’s closing season as opposed to the arriving campaign and with good reason.
Although they need to take the entire year into consideration, players are far more likely to collect the award if they have won a major trophy going into the summer.
The best indicator in recent years has been the winner of the Champions League and this played a particularly crucial role in Cristiano Ronaldo’s victories at Real Madrid.
However, the current favourite for this year’s award won’t be contesting the European final in Madrid and his name is Lionel Messi.
2019 BALLON D’OR
Looking at the statistics he’s recorded this season, the Argentine seems the obvious choice to win – barring an unparalleled collapse – but should his absence from the final change that?
It’s certainly a question worth debating and if that’s something that France Football want to consider, then perhaps the Ballon d’Or could be headed to a Liverpool or Tottenham player.
With all due respect to Spurs – and their road to Madrid has been superb – but there are more obvious individual star performers in the Liverpool set-up who could be in with a shot.
THREE LIVERPOOL PLAYERS FEATURE
Sure, Messi still seems rather nailed on to take the accolade and especially if he completes the double in Spain, but it appears that a trio of Liverpool stars could be his biggest rivals.
That’s because betting aggregator Oddschecker have ranked three members of Jurgen Klopp’s squad as more likely than Cristiano Ronaldo to claim the prize.
Drawing on the odds from leading UK bookmakers, it makes for fascinating viewing and Liverpool fans will be chuffed to see Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah all in the top five.
Check out the full set of leading contenders down below:
1. Lionel Messi – 1/2
2. Virgil van Dijk – 7/4
=3. Sadio Mane – 16/1
=3. Mohamed Salah – 16/1
5. Kylian Mbappe – 20/1
=6. Cristiano Ronaldo – 25/1
=6. Raheem Sterling – 25/1
If there was any doubt about the progress Liverpool have made under Klopp’s management, just enjoy three of their players sitting above both Ronaldo and Mbappe.
Of course, it will ultimately come down to France Football as to whom makes the final list of nominations but the trend amongst UK bookmakers is clear for everyone to see.
Van Dijk especially should be in the running for the award and while the chances of Salah and Mane are slimmer, they should at least be featuring on the list of nominees.
Mbappe will probably feel the most aggrieved and his statistics suggest he should at least be alongside Van Dijk, particularly as he chases Messi for the European Golden Boot.
Regardless, though, when you consider where Liverpool were when Brendan Rodgers was sacked, this list of odds stands as quite the statement for progress at Anfield.