By William Hill
Last Updated: 7th November 2019
Ahead of the winner of the Ballon d’Or being announced on December 2, we take a look at some of the key names to look out for and some outsiders to watch from the 30-man shortlist.
Virgil van Dijk
Besides Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, no player in Europe has made as much of a direct impact to the immediate success of their club as Virgil van Dijk has for Liverpool.
Since joining in 2018, Liverpool have gone from Premier League top-four hopefuls to Champions League winners, back-to-back finalists in Europe and finishing one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League, recording the largest runners-up points total in the competition’s history (97) in the process.
His honours this year include a Champions League winners’ medal, being named 2018/19 PFA Players’ Player of the Year and 2018/19 UEFA Defender of the Year, while finishing runner-up to Messi in the Best FIFA Men’s Player award. He has become the most influential centre-back in world football in less than two years.
If any player is to break Messi and Ronaldo’s stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or, it’d be Van Dijk, and he is 1/2 favourite to win the award this year.
Lionel Messi is a name synonymous with the Ballon d’Or having won it a mammoth five times down the years. Having already won the Best FIFA Men’s Player award this year, he’ll be hopeful of making it six and picking up the award for the first time in four years.
Last season saw the Argentine guide Barcelona to the La Liga title, the 10th of this career, while he also claimed the European Golden Shoe for the sixth time after racking up 36 goals in the Spanish top flight.
The 32-year-old also registered the most assists in La Liga with 13 as Barca got their hands on the trophy and he is second favourite at 5/2, behind Van Dijk, to lift the Ballon d’Or next month.
You only have to look at the decline in Real Madrid’s attacking output over the past 18 months to assess Ronaldo’s impact as a player.
Since he left the team that won three consecutive Champions League titles, Los Blancos finished third in La Liga last season, 19 points behind league winners Barcelona, and are yet to find their feet this term, with Zinedine Zidane struggling to nail down his starting XI as head coach.
Ronaldo’s accolades last season include a maiden Serie A title, with the Portugal international finishing as Juventus’ top goal scorer, not to mention winning the UEFA Nations League with his national team in the summer.
As always with the Ballon d’Or, Champions League triumph plays a part in selecting the winner of the trophy, and failure to lead his team to victory last season may prove his ultimate downfall if he isn’t to claim the trophy for a record sixth time. Despite this, you can get him at 4/1 to take home the Ballon d’Or.
Since moving to Liverpool from Southampton in 2016, Sadio Mane has gradually become one of the most influential players available to Jurgen Klopp. However, it’s in the last couple of seasons where the Senegal international has really excelled to the extent that he is a leading contender for next month’s Ballon d’Or trophy.
Since the start of last season, he has scored 36 goals in 66 appearances for the Merseysiders and his improved potency in front of goal is a leading reason why Liverpool won their sixth Champions League trophy last term and why they are now the Premier League leaders this season.
The 27-year-old is 50/1 to become just the second African-born player to win the prestigious award.
An outside shot for the accolade, Raheem Sterling has become a leader both on and off the pitch for Manchester City.
On the pitch, Raheem Sterling has progressed from a tricky winger that blows hot and cold in front of goal to one of the most prolific wide forward players in world football.
He’s joint top-scorer in the Champions League this calendar year with nine goals, alongside Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, and has been involved in 35 goals in the Premier League alone (24 goals, 11 assists) since the beginning of the 2018/19 season.
As well as taking strides to improve his game, Sterling has become a key influence in football’s stance on racism and is a role model to follow for many young players. The England international is 66/1 to win the award this year.