Welcome to FOX Sports Asia’s Ballon d’Or 2019 rankings. Here, we make a monthly appraisal of the five favourites to win the most prestigious individual award depending on their performances and achievements.
#5 Kylian Mbappe
The French sensation has taken over from Neymar as PSG’s attacking spearhead in the 2018/19 season and with good reason. His goal involvement numbers in the season are second only to Lionel Messi’s.
39 goals and 17 assists in 43 games. That alone earns him a spot on this list.
Mbappe could have been ranked higher though, had it not been for PSG’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester United and their defeat to Rennes in the French Cup finals.
Alisson didn’t just win Copa America 2019 with Brazil, but he also won the Golden Glove award for conceding the least number of goals in the tournament.
He won the same award in the Champions League and in the Premier League too. And his performance in the UCL finals against Tottenham to preserve Liverpool’s clean sheet was nothing short of supreme.
A lot of credit must go to Virgil van Dijk for tightening that Liverpool defence, but Alisson has been phenomenal when called upon. The fact that two separate teams with him in goal have gone on to win silverware this season gets him up on this list at number 4.
#3 Cristiano Ronaldo
There is no Ballon d’Or list without Cristiano Ronaldo. Yes, the Juventus star didn’t live up to his own lofty goal scoring standards of previous seasons but he was still an integral part of teams that won silverware.
He won the Italian Super Cup and the Serie A with Juventus and managed to bag the UEFA Nations League trophy with Portugal as well. In the process, he also collected a number of personal records.
The quarterfinal exit in the Champions League, however, is still a sticking point and is reason why he isn’t higher up on the list.
#2 Lionel Messi
A couple of months back, Ballon d’Or number 6 looked destined for Lionel Messi’s trophy cabinet. But a shocking 4-0 reverse to Liverpool at Anfield – and a subsequent Champions League exit – saw it all unravel for the Argentine.
That debacle was quickly followed by a Copa del Rey final loss to Valencia.
But Messi’s cloud of failure also followed him to international duty, as Argentina finished third in Copa America as his wait for his first international trophy continues.
Despite all of this, there is still a good chance he wins the Ballon d’Or because his numbers have been nothing short of phenonemal this season.
He’s got 51 goals and 22 assists in 50 games. If that doesn’t deserve the award…
#1 Virgil van Dijk
The only other player this season who can have a realistic claim to the Ballon d’Or apart from Lionel Messi is Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.
Usually the prestigious award is decided on goal involvement numbers – or at least, it has been in 10 of the last 11 years. But Luka Modric’s win last season signalled a paradigm shift that focuses on a player’s importance to a team’s performance.
Under that judging criteria, Virgil van Dijk has, arguably, been the most important player to a team you can find in Europe’s top leagues.
Not only did Liverpool win the Champions League with him commanding their backline, they also finished the Premier League season 1 point behind Manchester City – perhaps an even more coveted achievement.
Yes, based on numbers this year’s Ballon d’Or should go to Lionel Messi. But football isn’t played on paper, is it?