Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the Ballon d’Or awards in the past decade or so, with 5 trophies apiece. But this year’s award ceremony on the 2nd of December may have a new winner if the bookmakers’ predictions come good.
Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool and Netherlands star, is tipped as favourite to lift the trophy, with odds of 1/2 offered by bookie William Hill. Centre-back Van Dijk was the winner of the 2019 UEFA Player of the Year, and also holds the UEFA Defender of the Season accolade. Liverpool top the Premier League at present (and finished second last year, having lost just one match) and, earlier this year, won the 2019 UEFA Champions League with a 2-0 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur. Jurgen Klopp’s team are flying and the Ballon d’Or organisers recognise the depth of talent with no fewer than 7 out of the 30 nominees being current Liverpool players.
But Van Dijk cannot be sure of success for several reasons. Firstly, the Ballon d’Or is rarely awarded to Centre-Backs. Additionally, the Netherlands lost to Portugal in the Final of the National League Trophy. And finally, who can discount Messi and Ronaldo, the two most famous players in the world?
Argentinian striker Lionel Messi was injured earlier this season but has returned to form now, overtaking Ronaldo’s club goals tally (having played over 100 matches less). In September, he won the FIFA Best Men’s Player award and the 32-year old captain of Barcelona and his national team clearly has plenty more to give in the next few years. William Hill are offering odds of 5/2 that Messi will win the Ballon d’Or. If he does then Messi will set a new record as no player has yet won 6 times.
Cristiano Ronaldo has a similar opportunity to break this record as he has also won 5 times to date. The 34-year old Juventus and Portugal star is not favourite this year though. Although he is top scorer for his Italian club with 5 goals so far this season, five other players have scored more in the Serie A league. Juventus won the Italian league for a record eighth consecutive time in 2018/19 with Ronaldo becoming the first player in history to win the Premier League, La Liga and Series A titles. Can he make history again, but this time with the Ballon d’Or? The bookies reckon no, and the odds on offer are 10/1 from BetVictor.