The super-human duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the Ballon d’Or Award for the past decade.
Both of them have five accolades each and will be looking forward to getting an edge from one another by earning this year’s award too. However unlike previous years, this is no longer a two-horse race and there are many other names that have emerged to win the prestigious award.
Moreover, despite their impressive statistics, the pair are starting to decline with their age. With that in mind, let’s look at the five candidates who can break the Ronaldo-Messi dominance for the Ballon d’Or accolade this year.
Stats accurate as of April 14, 2018.
#5 Kevin de Bruyne
Mohamed Salah would be easily walking away with the Premier League Player of the Season award if it wasn’t for Kevin de Bruyne.
The Belgian international is the main source of creativity for the Citizens and the former Chelsea midfielder has alreay created 15 assists this term – alongside seven Premier League goals. He loves to take control of the game and naturally dictates the play for Manchester City going forward.
He was ranked as the fourth-best footballer by English newspaper The Guardian in 2017. Having flourished in the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg, he unsurprisingly won their Player of the Year acolade in 2014/15 and also provided the most number of assists last term.
He’s on his way towards receiving the same award for his efforts this season and with Pep Guardiola in charge of Premier League champions City, the future is certainly looking bright for de Bruyne and his fellow team-mates.
#4 Harry Kane
The England international is one of Europe’s hottest properties at the moment. His consistency over the past few seasons has reflected in his tremendous goalscoring record.
Harry Kane won the Golden Boot in consecutive seasons and was leading this season’s race until recent injury issues gave Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah a golden opportunity to overtake him during his absence.
The London-born striker was England’s Player of the Year in 2017 and also won the PFA Player of the Season in the 2016/17 campaign. Kane himself has won the Player of the Month accolade six times, which is joint-highest of all-time alongside Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
The Tottenham man will be England’s main man at the upcoming World Cup and a good time in Russia can bolster his chances to win the Ballon d’Or. Also, he has been linked with a move to Real Madrid recently, which could prove a vital point in his career if he decides to swap teams.
#3 Robert Lewandowski
Bayern Munich forward, Robert Lewandowski is certainly one of the world’s most clinical strikers and is on a goal crusade this season too.
The Polish international has scored at a rate of a goal-per-game and has already bagged 26 goals in the Bundesliga this season. His form in the Champions League is also impressive and the 29-year-old has scored five goals in Bayern’s existing run to the semi-finals.
Robert Lewandowski was Bundesliga’s top goal-scorer in the 2014-2015 and the 2015-2016 seasons. He nearly missed on the Bundesliga Golden Boot last season but scored twice the goals of nearest rival this season and is just a few games away from adding one more accolade to his already impressive cabinet.
The former Borussia Dortmund striker is scoring consistently at the top level and should be a serious threat to Ronaldo and Messi this season.
Neymar is often considered the world’s best player after Ronaldo and Messi. He has all the talent to win the accolade, but can consider himself unlucky to be born in the same generation as of the greatest duo.
After spending four successful years with Barcelona, Neymar moved to PSG for a world record fee and has been in a wonderful form since his move. He has scored 20 goals in 20 Ligue 1 games this season alongside 15 assists.
He suffered a season-ending injury on February 26, which hurt PSG’s chances of success in the UEFA Champions League. They were knocked out in the round-of-16 by Real Madrid. Neymar was PSG’s main man prior to his injury and netted six goals in seven games during this term’s competition.
Despite his injury woes, the Brazilian forward is likely to return to full fitness ahead of this summer’s World Cup – where he’ll be hoping that achieving ultimate success with Brazil propels him to frontrunner for this year’s prize as the world’s best player.
#1 Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah is currently considered the biggest threat to the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly and no-one would have predicted the success which he’s enjoying at Anfield.
The Egyptian is in brilliant form and has already netted 30 Premier League goals this season. The club’s top goalscorer across all competitions, he has also played a vital part in their impressive run to the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition.
The former Chelsea man has a tendency to shine in the big games and a huge chunk of his strikes this term have come against the big sides. He won the Champions League’s Player of the Week award on three occasions and has also won three Player of the Month accolades in England’s top tier – the most of any player in a single season.
With Liverpool currently excelling in the Champions League this term and Egypt having already sealed their place in the World Cup, Salah can ponder his chances to win the Ballon d’Or if he continues to maintain his impressive form all year long.