Who will walk away with the 2018 Ballon D’Or? It’s more than a 2 player race this year

by Conroy Concessio

For the past decade, the Ballon d’Or has been passed on between two men only. It was in 2007, when the Brazilian Kaka was adjudged the winner of this prestigious award, but ever since then world football has been dominated by two of the biggest names in football of our generation.

It’s no easy task to outshine Messi and Ronaldo in the same season or even be at par. So, let’s look at a few names that may have just entered the race to the Ballon d’Or for this year:

 


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World Cup heartbreak: The Messi – Ronaldo saga

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have shared this trophy a record five times and this year could be another moment when history will be made if either of them win the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time.

Prior to the recently concluded FIFA World Cup, all of us knew that being crowned World Champion would seal this year’s debate for the winner and a record sixth Ballon d’Or trophy. The one trophy that still eludes Messi and Ronaldo is the World Cup, and this year again they did not get a chance of coming close as Argentina and Portugal crashed out in the round of 16.

Messi dominated Spanish football last year by winning La Liga and the Copa del Rey with Barcelona and finished the season with the Pichichi scoring 34 goals in the process, 8 goals ahead of rival Ronaldo. Messi scored 1 goal at the World Cup against Nigeria which helped Argentina qualify to the round of 16.

Ronaldo on the other hand won the UCL with Real Madrid for a record three times in a row and finished as the top scorer with 15 goals in the UCL. Ronaldo scored 4 goals at the World Cup which included a hat trick against Spain.

Kylian Mbappe

Could he be the next big thing?

At only 19, Kylian Mbappe has already made a name for himself. Coming into the World Cup with an impressive season with PSG, he is part of the attacking trio that has been the French club’s main asset through the season. Mbappe finished the season being crowned French Ligue 1, French Cup and League Cup champions with PSG.

With consistent performances that impressed every football lover, he was named as the FIFA World Cup Best Young Player and helped France win its second World Cup by beating Croatia in the finals at Russia. History books have already been written, only the second youngest player to score at a World Cup after Pele and if he goes on to win the Ballon d’Or, Mbappe will be the youngest player to ever do so. The future is very bright for Mbappe and could be on his way to making history.

Luka Modric

A hardworking footballer who has been raised through a difficult childhood in Croatia. From a war stricken refugee to the national team captain, Modric has been discipline as a ruler. A leader in many ways for club and country, Modric may have just done enough to be a top contender for this year’s Ballon d’Or award. Finishing off with an impressive season for Real Madrid, as they were crowned UCL champions for a record three continuous years Modric is the heart of their midfield. No one would have guessed, that Croatia would go on to play in the finals of the FIFA World Cup this year but Modric and co. just showed us all why hard work, perseverance and determination is all that matters.

Defying all odds, Croatia played their first ever FIFA World Cup finals and that alone is history for this small 4 million populated nation. Delivering stellar performances in the midfield, Modric was adjudged as the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner. A contender for this year’s Ballon d’Or? Time will tell.

Eden Hazard

Widely judged as one of the players in contention of knocking Messi and Ronaldo off their perch, is this Belgian wonder – Eden Hazard. In the name itself, he is a hazard to any team he faces. The 2015 PFA Player of the Year has put in repeated stand out performances for both club and country and the top teams in Europe are vying for his signature. Belgium were regarded as one of the favourites to win this year’s World Cup this year as there were high expectations from the Golden Generation of world class players.

Even though Hazard’s season with Chelsea may not have ended with a trophy, he captained Belgium who finished in third place at the FIFA World Cup and was their highest finish in the tournaments history. Hazard delivered brilliant performances all throughout the World Cup which earned him the FIFA World Cup Silver Ball behind Luka Modric. With the completion of the World Cup, Hazard could possibly choose to move to another big club in Europe to win more silver ware. He could be one of the names that could end up high on this year’s list considering having won third place at the World Cup.

Mohamed Salah

Ending a brilliant season with Liverpool by finishing with the Golden Boot and Player of the Season awards, Salah was on fire ever since his move from AS Roma. The Egyptian genius was clinical in almost every match and was a runaway winner for the Golden Boot. Salah guided Liverpool to the UCL finals but it ended in heart break as he suffered an injury early in the first half which ended his fairy tale run of the season and he had to settle for a runners-up medal, having been beaten by Real Madrid.

Salah was instrumental in helping Egypt qualify for the FIFA World Cup as he scored an all-important last-minute penalty during qualification which confirmed their tickets to Russia. Egypt did not go through the group stages at the FIFA World Cup and Salah could not emulate his season’s performance as he was just back from injury. With that we can say Mohamed Salah’s chances of bagging the Ballon d’Or could have dipped drastically. But, on a positive note he could very well be a top contender and even finish in the top 5.

Could we see a new winner this year? We will have to wait till December to find out.

 

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