The announcement date for the winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or draws ever closer. There is just over two weeks to go until the winner is unveiled. Here we will look at the five players who are most worthy of winning football’s most coveted individual prize.
1. Virgil Van Dijk
Van Dijk has been a colossal figure for Liverpool since he joined in January 2018. He took his performances to a whole new level over the course of the 2018-2019 season. He was the defensive anchor in Liverpool’s Premier League record points haul of 97 points as well as in their Champions League triumph.
Van Dijk’s defensive greatness is illustrated by no player being able to dribble past him for 64 consecutive matches. That is a simply astonishing statistic. It shows his ability to read the game, position himself correctly and make precise tackles was unbelievable during this run of matches. This alone demonstrates his worthiness to win the Ballon d’Or.
Van Dijk has maintained his elite level of performance this season. He has still been Liverpool’s most important player and performed admirably against their toughest opponents of the season Manchester City, before the international break.
All in all, Van Dijk has a major claim to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or and who could begrudge him of that?
2. Lionel Messi
What more can be said about Messi: the Argentinian artist. He is already a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and a sixth title would take him one clear of arch nemesis and decade-long rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi lit up La Liga and the Champions League over the course of last season. He scored 51 goals in all competitions and provided 19 assists. His 36 La Liga goals claimed him a sixth European Golden Shoe, which is a record total. These figures blow the breath away. But this is just normal for him.
This season Messi has already score 9 goals in 11 matches while providing 5 assists. He illuminated Barcelona’s recent match against Celta Vigo on 10 November with two sumptuous free kicks. Not many players have ever scored one free kick in a match let alone two.
Messi, is one of the favourites for the award and rightly so. A sixth Ballon d’Or win would cement his legacy as one of, if not, the best player who has ever played the beautiful game.
3. Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe broke on to the scene at 18 years of age back in 2017. His astounding performances were too much for Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund to handle as he helped lead Monaco to the Champions League semi finals scoring home and away against both sides.
Mbappe’s form hasn’t dropped since. During the 2018-2019 season he became Paris Saint-Germain’s focal point and didn’t disappoint. He bagged 39 goals in 43 appearances and laid on 17 assists. Such a feat for a 20 year old is phenomenal. It is reminiscent of a young R9 (Ronaldo Nazario) who plundered in a ridiculous tally of 169 goals by the age of 21 for club sides Cruzeiro, PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona as well as the Brazilian national team. Mbappe won’t reach that remarkable feat but he is well on his way to hitting the heights Ronaldo Nazario did during his career.
Mbappe has been wonderful this season too. Highlighted by a sensational off the bench hat-trick in the Champions League against Belgian side Club Brugge. Overall he has scored 9 goals and provided 4 assists across his 11 appearances so far.
Mbappe may not be the number one candidate to lift the Ballon d’Or but his performances do justify him winning it.
4. Sadio Mane
Mane’s inclusion on this list may surprise some but he is worthy of being crowned the 2019 Ballon d’Or winner.
Mane has been the essential cog in Liverpool’s fantastic attacking triumvirate alongside Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino. He scored many crucial goals for Liverpool throughout the 2018-2019 season and continues to do so this season. When Mane has not played the other two falter. That’s the sign of his true importance to Liverpool’s attack.
Considering Mane is not an out and out striker and is required to do the defensive work Salah dislikes, his total of 26 goals in all competitions last season is nothing to be sniffed at. This included a season high 20 Premier League goals which claimed him the Golden Boot alongside Salah and Arsenal’s lethal marksman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
We mustn’t forget Mane, as captain of the Senegalese national team led them to the final of the 2019 African Nations Cup. He was their leader and talisman scoring 3 important goals on their way to the final. Without his composure in front of goal and creativity Senegal would not have made it that far.
Mane has not let up this season. He has already scored 11 goals with 7 coming in the Premier League and is well on his way to another Premier League Golden Boot. For a winger to win the Golden Boot two years in a row would be an outstanding achievement.
If Mane was to become only the second African player to win the Ballon d’Or after the great George Weah, that would be a momentous occasion. A feat which would live long, long in the memory.
5. Raheem Sterling
Sterling was an ever present for Manchester City in their title winning seasons of 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. Last season, in particular, Sterling was sensational. The England international scored 17 Premier League goals and contributed 12 assists. Like Mane, to provide so many goals from a wide position is mightily impressive.
Sterling also contributed heavily to Manchester City’s run to the Champions League quarter finals last season. He bagged 5 goals in 10 games. It was a great shame that his 95th minute goal against Tottenham Hotspur, which would have put City through to the semi-finals was ruled out by VAR. Its crazy to think, if that goal had stood and City had gone on to win the Champions League, Sterling would be the favourite for this award. It shows how one moment can change everything.
Despite this disappointment Sterling has continued to turn in match-winning displays this season. In particular, his impressive performances against West Ham away and Atalanta at home. There is no surprise he has already scored 7 Premier League goals and added another 5 in the Champions League.
Sterling is a prominent contender for the Ballon d’Or. Winning it would be recognition for the consistently, excellent performances he’s produced over the last year. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t understand the game.