Cristiano Ronaldo being Ballon d’Or favourite is not exactly shocking. Sitting at Evens just before the Champions League final, Ronaldo is going for his sixth Ballon d’Or, and his third in three years. The rivalry with Messi has ratcheted up a notch.
There’s no denying Ronaldo’s brilliance. His role has changed, with his input in build-up decreasing year on year. His goal scoring, though, continues to be remarkable, as we saw in the early months of 2018 to recover from a poor start to the season. Ronaldo, at the time of writing, has 40 goals in 38 La Liga and Champions League matches.
Ronaldo will remain favourite if Real win the Champions League. His World Cup performances, though, will play a big part in his Ballon d’Or credentials, and he surely cannot afford another poor start to a season if he is to win his sixth award.
Lionel Messi stepped up when Neymar was sold by Barcelona last summer. The Argentinian turned in performances few other players on the planet can even come close to. His string of displays towards the end of the La Liga season have bordered on superhuman, as Barca have cruised to another title.
The international question looms large. Rightly or wrongly, it is what so many hold against the magical Barcelona forward. Success, or at least a deep run into the competition, in Russia this summer would make Messi my favourite for the Ballon d’Or. An underwhelming tournament and Messi may see his Ballon d’Or drought extended.
We can throw ‘best’ around all we like. Messi is the most talented player in the world. For that reason alone, the 3/1 price is a good one.
Mohamed Salah has had possibly the best individual season in Premier League history. The Egyptian collected a whole cabinet worth of awards in the process, while playing a pivotal role in Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final.
Salah is at 7/4 to win the Ballon d’Or, ahead of some guy called Lionel Messi. It will take a continuation of his 2017/18 form into next season for him to stand a chance, but he could do just that.
Liverpool’s superstar is a frontrunner at the moment. Jurgen Klopp’s side will continue to be one of the world’s best attacking forces, and it feels like only injury can stop Salah right now. The arrival of Naby Keita could see Salah get even more clear chances, too, just in case anyone was worrying about his supply.
Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City’s Belgian superstar was unfortunate that Salah was as good as he was. Kevin De Bruyne missed out on any individual recognition, despite a stellar campaign as Pep Guardiola’s side broke every conceivable record on their way to the Premier League title.
Out at 20/1, De Bruyne’s chances – much like Ronaldo and Messi – are very dependent on the World Cup. If Belgium live up to the strength of their squad, De Bruyne is going to have a key role to play. Should the Belgians even go all the way this summer, the Manchester City man could quickly become favourite for the Ballon d’Or.
De Bruyne is an outsider in May. Come voting time, the landscape might be markedly different. The price is good value, though it does rely on Belgium delivering at the World Cup.
Harry Kane is at 50/1. I couldn’t leave him out at that price. Sure, it’s very improbable that he even makes the final three, but I was shocked to see him out at 50s. Kane struggled for fitness and form in the last few weeks, but all that will be forgotten if he hits one of his famous purple patches at the World Cup.
England are not as bad as the common perception seems to be. A run into the semi-finals or even the final in Russia is not impossible, and Kane will undoubtedly be a huge part of it. Combine that with a flying start to the next Premier League season and maybe Kane has a shout.
Don’t go betting the house on Kane’s Ballon d’Or hopes, but I’m sure a few optimistic England fans could be tempted into it.