When the term ‘Ballon d’Or’ is mentioned, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are just synonymous to it. The duo have dominated proceedings for such a long period of time that it is impossible to think about this accolade without mentioning them.
Indeed, of the last 11 editions, 10 were won by the great pair with Luka Modric being the exception and that was just last year. As the Ballon d’Or 2019 felicitation comes closer, both Ronaldo and Messi are back to being the talk of the town.
But this year, it doesn’t seem like any of the two players will be crowned as the best in the world, and here are three reasons why.
3. No Champions League
This is perhaps the most important point when it comes to being in the contention for the most elite accolade in club football. Winning the Champions League gives a player the edge with regards to the Ballon d’Or.
Indeed, we will have to go as far 2013 to find a player who won the Ballon d’Or without the Champions League medal. This year, neither Ronaldo nor Messi were able to win the most prestigious European competition in club football, which means that the odds may not favour them.
2. The Duopoly Has Been Broken
One of the biggest things we learn in life is that once something starts, it almost always keeps happening. All these years, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo kept winning the Ballon d’Or award.
For a record 10 years, the two shared 5 Ballon d’Or titles each no-one else could lay their hands on the prestigious title. It is not that no-one else deserved it. Indeed, in 2010, Sneijder had a better claim to the Ballon d’Or than Lionel Messi.
In 2013, Frank Ribery won the treble with Bayern Munich and yet lost the title to Cristiano Ronaldo, but now that the streak is over, there is a very good chance that the voters could once again overlook the two and choose someone else.
1. Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah
And by someone else, the pointers indicate towards Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah. The Liverpool duo were absolutely fantastic throughout the year and their performances helped the Reds lift the Champions League title this year by defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the final.
While Salah came up with the goods in front of goal with 27 goals from 52 games, Van Dijk was the rock in the centre of the defence, which is why he might just be the first defender since Fabio Cannavaro to win the Ballon d’Or.
In terms of overall influence, the Dutchman beats the Egyptian.