The last 10 years of the Ballon d’Or award have been dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – but there’s a new competitor emerging in 2018.
Ronaldo and Messi – who have both entered their thirties – have each won five Ballon d’Or’s since Kaka claimed the award in 2007.
However, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah appears to be a serious contender to break up the duopoly.
The Egyptian winger, who famously flopped at Chelsea, moved to Merseyside from Roma for £37.1m last summer.
Salah has already scored 40 goals for his new club and can break the record for goals in a Premier League season with two more in Liverpool’s last four outings.
“I’m putting on the tin hat before suggesting this but Mo Salah surely deserves to be in the running for the Ballon d’Or,” said retired Reds legend Robbie Fowler
“I’m not saying he’s going to win it, in fact I’m pretty sure he won’t the way the whole thing is structured. But I am saying – passionately – that it’s time to look beyond the almost knee-jerk leaning towards Ronaldo or Messi.”
Messi v Ronaldo v Salah
Comparing their goal contributions, a fan on Reddit has taken a look at how the 2018 Ballon d’Or race is shaping up.
Ronaldo, 33, had a dismal start to the 2017/18 season but has been in magnificent form for Real Madrid as the World Cup approaches.
All three players have produced magnificent statistics – and Salah is surely in contention to end their era of dominance.
The 25-year-old Liverpool star has posted some incredible figures under Jurgen Klopp’s management.
It’s almost impossible to separate the three of them right now.
“Scoring 40 goals means a lot,” said Salah after scoring against Bournemouth on Saturday. “But I try to score every game to help the team. To get the points.
“That is the most important thing for us, that we play as a team, we play as 11 players. So each goal for me, or for anyone else is to try to help the team.”
On being told he scored 40 goals quicker than any other player in Liverpool’s history, Salah responded: “It’s a great feeling. Of course it’s a great feeling. But you know I said in the end I am happy to score, happy to help the team, that’s it.”
Where the Ballon d’Or may be decided
Ronaldo and Salah are both in the Champions League semi-finals but a lot could depend on what happens in the World Cup.
Salah would massively strengthen his Ballon d’Or bid if he is able to maintain his club form and take Egypt into the knockout stages for the first time in his nation’s history.
Meanwhile, Messi and Ronaldo are both under lots of pressure to inspire their countries to World Cup success.
Everyone had predicted that Neymar would be the next player to win the Ballon d’Or – but Salah could prove us all wrong.