The Man Who Would Be King

Is Mo Salah poised to end that Messi/Ronaldo Ballon d’Or stranglehold?

Cristiano Ronaldo was still a Manchester United player when he claimed his first Ballon d’Or back in 2008. It would be 5 long years before he got his hands on another one though, with Lionel Messi claiming the honour in the intervening years.

However, the Portuguese superstar bounced back in spectacular style, scooping the award in 4 of the last 5 seasons and is now tied with Messi, who was also successful in 2015, on 5 titles.

Ronaldo recently achieved something that is not very common for a visiting player in football – a standing ovation from the home supporters when he scored this spectacular overhead kick in a Champions League tie in Turin.

Many observers predicted that this goal alone would be sufficient to ensure that he claimed another Ballon d’Or title and it may yet.

However, a new star has emerged in the shape of Liverpool’s Mo Salah and he is threatening to end the Ronaldo/Messi monopoly.

The Egyptian international has been unstoppable as he chases down a string of records and the Kop have their new king.

With a Champions League final on the horizon and World Cup appearances in Russia to look forward to, Salah will get the opportunity to impress further and he might also benefit from changes that were made to the voting system back in 2016.

After merging with the FIFA World Player of the Year Award beween 2010 and 2015 to form the FIFA Ballon d’Or, France Football magazine’s annual award reverted back to its original format, while FIFA introduced ‘The Best Awards’ but perhaps more significant was the changes implemented to the voting system.

Players and coaches were no longer eligible to vote giving full control to football journalists who are primarily from France, England, Spain, Germany and France Football media outlets. A shortlist of 30 players are nominated and the 173 journalists are required to select their top 3.

Rest assured that these journalists will be keeping a close eye on the Egyptian international this weekend, since a goal in Liverpool’s final home game with Brighton would mean that he will have scored more goals than any other player in a single Premier League season.

For this final round of Premier League games, Salah has been allotted a £17.1m price tag on PlayON, the Official Fantasy Sports partner of Formula 1 but don’t let that put you off including him since he will be eager to wrap up the Golden Boot title too, a feat that should put him in pole position for the 2018 Ballon d’Or crown.

Of course, there is the small matter of that Champions League final – with a match-up against Ronaldo and Real Madrid to look forward to but unless he is seriously upstaged by Portugal’s all-time leading goalscorer, who is expected to shake-off an ankle injury to line up in Kiev or the likes of Messi or Neymar have a truly sensational World Cup, then the Ballon d’Or is surely Salah’s for the taking. After all, it is about time that this trophy had a new winner!