The race for the 2019 Ballon d’Or is heating up. Lionel Messi led the race for much of the 2018/19 season after his stunning domestic form saw Barcelona win La Liga. However, recent developments have seen the Argentinian fall down the pecking order, with a new player emerging as the favorite to win the coveted award.
Lionel Messi may have had his sixth Ballon d’Or snatched right from in front of him. The Barcelona star, who was the odds-on favorite to pick up the individual award for most of the season, saw his personal campaign derail due to a semi-final elimination in Copa America.
And as per the Daily Mail, a new star has emerged as the frontrunner to lift the award – Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk!
Van Dijk had a stellar season for both club and country. The Dutchman won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and finished second in the Premier League. He also finished runners-up in the UEFA Nations League with the Netherlands, who were beaten in the final by Portugal.
Statistically, Van Dijk has been a Goliath in the heart of the Liverpool backline. His immense contribution to the Reds title charge can be attributed to the fact that he was dribbled past exactly zero times throughout the season!
Courtesy of his stellar season, the Liverpool star is now the bookmakers’ favorite to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or. Lionel Messi is the second favorite and Cristiano Ronaldo comes in third.
Meanwhile, if the Dutchman does win the prize in the December ceremony, he will be the first Liverpool player to do so since Michael Owen in 2001. Moreover, he will also be the first defender to lift the award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 and the first from his country since Marco van Basten in 1989.