Ballon d'Or 2018: 5 players most likely to win
Earlier this month, the final 30 nominations for the 2018 Ballon d'Or were announced. The final shortlist contained a lot of the usual suspects, in addition to a few surprises such as Karim Benzema. You can check all the nominations below (nominees are in no particular order):
Sergio Agüero, Alisson Becker, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani, Thibaut Courtois, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin de Bruyne, Roberto Firmino, Diego Godín, Antoine Griezmann, Eden Hazard, Isco, Harry Kane, N´Golo Kanté, Hugo Lloris, Mario Mandzukic, Sadio Mané, Marcelo, Kylian Mbappé, Ivan Rakitic, Mohamed Salah, Sergio Ramos, Luis Suarez, Raphaël Varane
The ceremony to announce the winner of football's biggest individual award will take place in Paris on 3 December. Looking at the list above, it is clear that thirty extremely talented individuals have been nominated, however, only a handful of candidates have a realistic chance of taking home the award.
Here we will look at the five candidates with the best chance to win the 2018 Ballon d'Or.
#5 Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard has put himself in contention to win the prize due to the Ballon d'Or taking into account performances from the whole calendar year.
The Belgian has already hit seven goals in nine appearances, and recently took home the Premier League player of the month. Hazard will, of course, face an uphill battle to secure the Ballon d'Or due to the fact that the award nearly always goes to a player in Spain.
Despite this, a strong World Cup combined with a fantastic start to the Premier League season has given the 27-year-old an outside chance.
#4 Antoine Griezmann
The French star has boosted his case to win the award this year by winning both the World Cup with France, and the Europa League with Atletico Madrid. The combination of both personal and team success has helped to position Griezmann as one of the biggest threats to Messi and Ronaldo's dominance.
In 2018, The Frenchman has once again been among the most productive players in terms of both goals and assists. This year's award may come too soon due to the outstanding performances from a handful of other players, however, the 27-year-old has at least placed himself among the outsiders.
#3 Luka Modric
Modric famously beat both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win the Best FIFA Men's Player earlier this year. His excellent performances over the last 12 months were influential to both Real Madrid's Champions League success, and his countries surprise run to the World Cup final.
The Ballon d'Or, however, takes into account performances from the full calendar year, and the Croatians performances have been mixed since the summer in Russia.
Ultimately, the 33-year-old's victory at the rival FIFA award ceremony will probably influence voters to look towards a different candidate in early December.