Messi? Ronaldo? Van Dijk? Men’s Ballon d’Or

Luka Modric won last year's Men's Ballon d'Or to end 10 years of Messi-Ronaldo domination

Luka Modric won last year’s Men’s Ballon d’Or to end 10 years of Messi-Ronaldo domination

It’s time to crown the best player in men’s football for 2019.

In a glittering ceremony in Paris on Monday, the winner of this year’s Men’s Ballon d’Or will be announced, with Liverpool defensive rock Virgil van Dijk the favourite to be the first defender to take the honour in 13 years.

The Premier League is heavily stocked, boasting 15 of the 30-man shortlist. But who is in contention?

Last year’s winner Luka Modric – the only winner in the past 11 years not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo – did not make the cut.

Both Messi and Ronaldo are very much in the running, having won it a joint-record five times each already.

Messi has already won the Best Fifa Men’s award in 2019, while Van Dijk was Uefa’s Men’s Player of the Year – victory for Ronaldo on Monday would see the three biggest prizes in men’s football going to three different players for the first time.

BBC Sport has a rundown of the contenders for this year’s Men’s Ballon d’Or…

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Sergio Aguero

Club: Manchester City Nation: Argentina

Age: 31 Honours 2019: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield

The Argentina goal machine had another productive year in front of goal, netting 32 times for City as they won a domestic treble in 2018-19 and adding 13 more this season before picking up an injury. You do take those numbers for granted but has he done enough to be considered?

Approximate odds: 250-1

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Club: Liverpool Nation: England

Age: 21 Honours 2019: Champions League, Uefa Super Cup

A real breakthrough year for the full-back whose quick-thinking corner against Barcelona delivered one of the moments of 2019. A superb year but perhaps overshadowed by team-mates when it comes to the big honours.

Approximate odds: 1000-1


Club: Liverpool Nation: Brazil

Age: 27 Honours 2019: Champions League, Copa America

A man who added the Copa America to his Champions League win for Liverpool – his stoppage-time save from Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik in the final group game was key on the road to triumph in Madrid for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Approximate odds: 100-1

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Club: Arsenal Nation: Gabon

Age: 30 Honours 2019: None

Scores goals, year on year. But with no trophies in the bank this year it’s hard to see the Arsenal man troubling the scorers on this occasion.

Approximate odds: 1000-1

Karim Benzema

Club: Real Madrid Nation: France

Age: 31 Honours 2019: None

Can you play up front for Real Madrid for a solid decade and still be underestimated? Maybe. Benzema is closing in on 250 goals for Real but if he was going to win the honour it would surely have come during one of his four Champions League-winning seasons.

Approximate odds: 1000-1

Kevin de Bruyne

Club: Manchester City Nation: Belgium

Age: 28 Honours 2019: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield

The Premier League’s most talented player? There’s a good argument for it. Won a domestic treble with City last season and makes the shortlist after returning from serious injury to shine throughout the calendar year.

Approximate odds: 150-1

Frenkie de Jong

Club: Barcelona Nation: Netherlands

Age: 22 Honours 2019: Eredivisie, KNVB Cup (Both with Ajax)

Earned a £65m move to Barca with his game-running performances from deep midfield for Ajax during their stunning run to the Champions League semis. If he keeps up his momentum, he could be a future winner.

Approximate odds: 250-1

Matthijs de Ligt

Club: Juventus Nation: Netherlands

Age: 20 Honours 2019: Eredivisie, KNVB Cup (Both with Ajax)

Like De Jong, was outstanding for Ajax and earned a big-money move to one of European football’s giants. Still only 20.

Approximate odds: 500-1

Roberto Firmino

Club: Liverpool Nation: Brazil

Age: 28 Honours 2019: Champions League, Uefa Super Cup, Copa America

All three of Liverpool’s attacking trident make the shortlist and while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane may hog the headlines more often, Firmino is the one who makes the team tick. Won the Champions League and then his two goals helped Brazil to a Copa win as well.

Approximate odds: 250-1

Antoine Griezmann

Club: Barcelona Nation: France

Age: 28 Honours 2019: None

Completed his long-mooted move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona this summer but maybe hasn’t found his best form yet at the Nou Camp.

Approximate odds: 250-1

Eden Hazard

Club: Real Madrid Nation: Belgium

Age: 28 Honours 2019: Europa League (with Chelsea)

Signed off in style at Chelsea with a match-winning performance in the Europa League final and then completed his move to Real. Like Griezmann, hasn’t found his best form in Spain yet.

Approximate odds: 500-1

Joao Felix

Club: Atletico Madrid Nation: Portugal

Age: 20 Honours 2019: Primeira Liga (with Benfica), Nations League

The man signed to replace Griezmann at Atletico Madrid, the then 19-year-old was the fifth-biggest transfer in history when he moved from Benfica for £113m. Won the Nations League with Portugal in the summer but has found goals a bit hard to come by so far in Spain.

Approximate odds: 250-1

Kalidou Koulibaly

Club: Napoli Nation: Senegal

Age: 28 Honours 2019: None

Continually linked with a mega-money move to the top end of the Premier League, the dominant centre-half has been superb again – and was particularly excellent in Napoli’s win over Liverpool in September.

Approximate odds: 500-1

Robert Lewandowski

Club: Bayern Munich Nation: Poland

Age: 31 Honours 2019: Bundesliga, DFB Pokal

The only Bundesliga player on the list, Lewandowski scored 42 times for club and country in the 2018-19 season and then netted in 11 league games in a row from the start of this season. He scored the fastest quadruple in Champions League history against Red Star Belgrade on 26 November, taking just 14 minutes and 31 seconds.

Approximate odds: 100-1

Hugo Lloris

Club: Tottenham Nation: France

Age: 32 Honours 2019: None

Not the most obvious choice on paper – Lloris was in nets as Spurs made it all the way to the Champions League final but hadn’t been at his best before suffering a bad elbow injury which ended his year in October.

Approximate odds: 1000-1

Sadio Mane

Club: Liverpool Nation: Senegal

Age: 27 Honours 2019: Champions League, Uefa Super Cup

Eclipsed Mohamed Salah as Liverpool’s chief goal threat during a superb year – Mane scored 30 goals for club and country last season and added eight more in the Premier League in his first 12 appearances this term.

Approximate odds: 50-1

Riyad Mahrez

Club: Manchester City Nation: Algeria

Age: 28 Honours 2019: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Africa Cup of Nations

Not an automatic pick for Manchester City on the road to their three trophies but has got to grips with Pep Guardiola’s demands and got better as the year wore on. Influential in the absence of injured Leroy Sane. Was Algeria captain when they won the Africa Cup of Nations and scored a superb stoppage-time winner in the semi-final against Nigeria.

Approximate odds: 250-1


Club: Paris St-Germain Nation: Brazil

Age: 25 Honours 2019: Ligue 1, Trophee des Champions, Copa America

Powerful centre-back who has played in midfield at times for Paris St-Germain, won the Copa America with Brazil but not able to help the dominant French side make it all the way in the Champions League.

Approximate odds: 500-1

Kylian Mbappe

Club: Paris St-Germain Nation: France

Age: 20 Honours 2019: Ligue 1, Trophee des Champions

Another PSG player who enjoyed a superb year, the dynamic forward has scored over 30 goals in the calendar year for club and country.

Approximate odds: 250-1

Lionel Messi

Club: Barcelona Nation: Argentina

Age: 32 Honours 2019: La Liga

The GOAT? Messi already has five Ballon d’Or wins and five runners-up trophies in his locker and could well make the podium again. You get used to his brilliance but the numbers still stack up – Messi scored 54 times for club and country in the 2018-19 season and after an injury-hit start to this campaign scored nine times in seven games in October and November.

Approximate odds: 2-1

Cristiano Ronaldo

Club: Real Madrid Nation: Portugal

Age: 34 Honours 2019: Serie A, Nations League

The GOAT? Added a league championship in Italy to his three Premier Leagues and two La Liga crowns, also helped Portugal to the Nations League with a hat-trick against Switzerland. Scored 26 times in his first 40 Serie A starts which maybe suggests signs of him slowing down a touch…

Moved to 99 international goals which suggests not.

Approximate odds: 8-1

Mohamed Salah

Club: Liverpool Nation: Egypt

Age: 27 Honours 2019: Champions League, Uefa Super Cup

Consistently excellent again for Liverpool as they came so close to ending the league championship drought, scored in the Champions League final and shared the league Golden Boot with team-mate Mane and Arsenal’s Aubameyang.

Approximate odds: 100-1

Bernardo Silva

Club: Manchester City Nation: Portugal

Age: 25 Honours 2019: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield, Nations League

No player on the shortlist won more in 2019, the midfielder was a key cog in Pep Guardiola’s City machine and also tasted international success with Portugal.

Approximate odds: 250-1

Son Heung-min

Club: Tottenham Nation: South Korea

Age: 27 Honours 2019: None

Sensational for Spurs all year, but particularly in the Champions League. Scored three times over the two legs in the quarter-final win over Manchester City and is closing in on 50 Premier League goals for the club.

Approximate odds: 1000-1

Raheem Sterling

Club: Manchester City Nation: England

Age: 24 Honours 2019: Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield

Denied an FA Cup final hat-trick by team-mate Gabriel Jesus who nicked one on the goalline, Sterling scored 31 times last season and has taken his goalscoring form to the international scene, with eight goals in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Approximate odds: 66-1

Dusan Tadic

Club: Ajax Nation: Serbia

Age: 31 Honours 2019: Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, Johan Cruyff Shield

Whoever decided to let Tadic leave Southampton for just over £10m in the summer of 2018 is probably still looking for work – the number 10 has been exceptional for Ajax since, starring in their run to the last four of the Champions League. He scored six times and provided five assists.

Approximate odds: 1000-1

Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Club: Barcelona Nation: Germany

Age: 27 Honours 2019: La Liga

In a battle with Manuel Neuer to become first choice for Germany on the back of more consistent displays for Barca, Ter Stegen won his fourth La Liga crown this year.

Approximate odds: 1000-1

Donny van de Beek

Club: Ajax Nation: Netherlands

Age: 22 Honours 2019: Eredivisie, KNVB Cup, Johan Cruyff Shield

One of the Ajax starlets to stay in Amsterdam for another season at least, Van de Beek scored a fine goal at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and at Juventus last season, and also scored in the 4-4 thriller with Chelsea this season.

Approximate odds: 1000-1

Virgil van Dijk

Club: Liverpool Nation: Netherlands

Age: 28 Honours 2019: Champions League, Uefa Super Cup

The favourite for the gong and could be the first defender to win the honour since Italy’s World Cup-winning skipper Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. A defensive colossus who is a threat in both boxes and can knock 50-yard passes, there’s not much new to add about Van Dijk…

Approximate odds: 8-15

Georginio Wijnaldum

Club: Liverpool Nation: Netherlands

Age: 29 Honours 2019: Champions League, Uefa Super Cup

Another of Liverpool’s Champions League winners to make the cut, Wijnaldum’s year will best be remembered for his double in the famous comeback win over Barcelona.

Approximate odds: 1000-1