Lionel Messi will have Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk as rivals for the 2019 Ballon d’Or award. But not Neymar.
When the long list of 30 candidates was announced Monday — in the city where Neymar has played for more than two years at Paris Saint-Germain — the Brazil star’s name was missing from the nominations by a global voting panel of journalists.
Messi and Ronaldo’s 10-year grip on the individual award organized by France Football magazine was broken by Luka Modric last December Morris is also absent
one year after he swept the Ballon d’Or and FIFA best player awards after a stellar 2018 with Real Madrid and Croatia.
World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe is favored to add a Ballon d’Or to her FIFA award won last month.
The United States star is joined on a 20-woman list by teammates Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan. Defending her title is Ada Hegerberg, winner of the inaugural women’s award, from Europe’s dominant club team Lyon which has six nominees.
Neymar has twice placed third in Ballon d’Or voting, both times finishing behind Messi and Ronaldo. Moving out of Messi’s shadow in Barcelona, where they won a Champions League title together in 2015, has not delivered the personal acclaim Neymar sought.
Messi won his sixth FIFA award last month, edging Van Dijk who starred in Liverpool’s Champions League-winning team.
Van Dijk would be the first defender topping the poll since Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
The Liverpool center back was among seven teammates nominated, including Alisson Becker and Roberto Firmino. They also won the Copa America with a Brazil team that managed without an injured Neymar.
Van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum also figured in the five nominees from a resurgent Netherlands team. No Dutch player has won since Marco van Basten in 1992.
Liverpool forwards Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are among a six-strong African challenge, including Mane’s Senegal teammate, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
The only Asian player on the list is South Korea forward Son Heung-min of Champions League finalist Tottenham.
The awards ceremony is Dec. 2 in Paris.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of today’s 2019 Ballon d’Or shortlist announcement.
It seems likely that this year’s Ballon d’Or will be between Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk. But there are plenty of others who will hope to make the top 30.
We’ll run you through some of the names here…
As mercurial and peerless as ever, Messi scored 36 goals and added 15 assists as Barcelona clinched La Liga, as well as 12 goals in 10 games during the club’s run to the Champions League semi-final.
Virgil van Dijk
The undisputed talisman of Liverpool’s Champions League win, and the club’s relentless title charge. The centre-back played every league game and lifted a formidable side like no few other players in Europe have managed.
The fears over whether Ronaldo’s talents would fade beyond Madrid were quickly extinguished, scoring 21 goals in 31 games as Juventus cantered to the Serie A title, before inspiring Portugal’s Nations League victory in the summer.
The understated partner to Mohamed Salah, yet quietly the more impressive over the 2018/19 season. Mane scored 22 goals in the Premier League, starred in Liverpool’s Champions League win, and guided Senegal to the final of the African Cup of Nations.
Integral to Manchester City, having helped fill the void left by the injured Kevin De Bruyne, while also an inspiration for Portugal to win the Nations League. A complete player who refuses to hide in the big moments and always makes his teammates better.
Man City’s standout player in the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, scoring 17 goals and adding 12 assists as Pep Guardiola’s side clinched a third Premier League title, as well as an FA and EFL Cup.
Relentlessly effective cutting in off the right-wing, Salah scored 27 goals in all competitions as Liverpool lifted the Champions League and chased down Man City to the final game of the Premier League season.
The Brazilian established himself as arguably the best ball-playing goalkeeper in the world, making a series of crucial saves – none more so than against Napoli – as Liverpool clinched a sixth European Cup.
In a topsy-turvy final season at Chelsea, under Maurizio Sarri, Hazard carried an often chaotic side on his shoulders, scoring 21 goals and adding 17 assists in all competitions as the Blues won the Europa League, before finally sealing his summer move to Real Madrid.
Frenkie de Jong
Maybe the finest midfielder of the last 12 months, fearless on the ball for Ajax, no matter the moment, while also fundamental to a resurgent Netherlands. Barcelona have the premier midfielder of the next decade.
Shining as a false nine and delivering insane production for Dutch giants Ajax. Maybe the key piece in their Champions League run, 47 goals and 34 assists since the start of last season.
Selfless at times but also key in sprinkling the final touches to Liverpool’s moves when necessary. Gorgeous technique and the movement to enable Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah to thrive.
Running ceaselessly across the midfield in a box-to-box role, offering a new vein of attacking threat under Maurizio Sarri, Kante again proved why he’s the best midfielder of his ilk as Chelsea won the Europa League.
The magnetism of Mbappe hasn’t faded since France’s World Cup victory, scoring 33 goals in 29 games as PSG stormed to the Ligue 1 title.
Still maintaining a relentless goalscoring streak at 31 years old and thriving in a leadership role in a Bayern side in transition. Perhaps Europe’s most prolific striker and capable of scoring every type of goal.
Kevin de Bruyne
Injuries have stemmed his progress, but he is back now and hitting his previous heights. A devastating player able to break games open or control them.
Matthijs de Ligt
A dominant centre-back with quality to match, though the transition at Juventus has so far been tough. Yet he led a young Ajax team superbly and forms one half of the finest centre-back partnership in international football alongside Virgil van Dijk.
Often dismissed yet his record remains superb, operating at the heart of Spurs and England in their excellent Champions League and Nations League runs. Continues to quietly put together a world class resume, even if many will refuse to acknowledge it until he’s gone.
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