Easily one of the best football players to ever grace the pitch, Lionel Messi is almost always in the short-list of the coveted Ballon d’Or.
The Barcelona superstar shares the distinction of winning the title five times, the most alongside Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
This year, the Argentine helped the Catalan club win the La Liga title and picked up the Copa del Rey trophy for another successful season.
However, times have changed and Messi appears to have more competition for the Ballon d’Or. Here are possible reasons that may result in the Argentine failing to win the title this year.
NO LONGER A TWO-PLAYER RACE
Since 2008, there have only been two players who lifted the Ballon d’Or title and they are Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
After the Portuguese won it in 2008, the Argentine won it an impressive three straight occurrences.
The Madrid star won it twice after that before Messi usurped the position of the best in the world in 2015.
With Ronaldo winning the last two years, it will be increasingly difficult for Messi to win again as there are more players making their names in European football.
This year, Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich is in the mix after the Polish star helped the German club win a domestic double as well.
Furthermore, Lewandowski and Munich advanced further in the UEFA Champions League as they were eliminated in the semis, versus Barcelona crashing in the quarterfinals to AS Roma.
EMERGENCE OF THE EGYPTIAN PHENOM
Outside of Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi will face a considerable threat in Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah.
Since arriving from Roma, Salah has had a stellar year, breaking the season scoring record in the Premier League with 32 goals, while also maintaining his form in the European competition.
Furthermore, Salah’s performances have helped exceed expectations most have set on Liverpool; with reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League as the biggest accomplishment to date.
If the Reds go on to eventually beat the heavily favoured Madrid club then Salah would arguably be the frontrunner for the coveted individual trophy.
All of his accomplishments this year alone deserved a separate spot on the list.
While Barcelona had a relatively successful domestic run, it was vastly overshadowed by their unfortunate European run.
Messi and the Catalans had a commading 4-1 aggreagte lead when they dominated the Italian outfit at Camp Nou.
Against a team that were considered over-achievers to reach the knockout stages, most believed that Messi and company were all set to reach the semis.
However, Roma had other plans and overcame the deficit with a 3-0 victory at home, winning the tie via away goals rule and stopping Barcelona’s chance to win a Treble.
That disappointing loss will definitely cost Messi in his bid for a sixth Ballon d’Or.
WINNING THE ELUSIVE WORLD CUP
With all the club accomplishments, the only thing lacking in Messi’s resume is winning the FIFA World Cup.
Argentina have struggled recently and Messi had to score a hat-trick against Ecuador to help La Albiceleste qualify for this year’s World Cup.
Paired with a few stars from the country, the team still heavily relies on Messi’s leadership and experience to help them progress through the competition.
With so much on his shoulders, the tall task of winning it all rests solely on how the star will perform in the brightest stage.
With so many other nations considered as favourites in the competition, Messi’s chances have slimmed down as Argentina have failed to significantly improve for the competition.