Ballon d'Or 2019: Ranking the 3 favourites after the Champions League final
The 2018-19 Champions League campaign comes to an end with Liverpool crowned as the Champions of Europe for the sixth time by defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano in the final on Saturday.
The European success usually acts as the key factor in determining the Ballon d'Or winner, as all recipients of the prestigious prize in the last six years have won the European competition that season.
Right on this note, here is the list of three favourites to win the Ballon d'Or 2019 after the Champions League final.
#3 Sadio Mane
Sadio Mane remained under the limelight of Mohamed Salah last season and he didn't get the credit he deserved. However, Salah's inconsistency this season gave him an opportunity to take the centre stage at the club, which he accepted with both hands.
The Senegalese international scored 22 league goals during the 2018-19 season and won the Premier League Golden Shoe alongside Mohamed Salah and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang.
He also performed brilliantly in the Champions League and scored four goals in the Merseysiders trophy winning camapign.
George Weah is only African player to win the Ballon d'Or in 1995, however, there are real chances for the Liverpool attacker to end that drought if he continues to perform in the same form for the rest of the year.
#2 Lionel Messi
Five-time Ballon d'Or award winner, Lionel Messi enjoyed an excellent 2018-19 campaign and helped Barcelona defend thier LaLiga crown.
The Argentine international scored 36 LaLiga goals during the 2018-19 season and won the European Golden Shoe for the third consecutive season. He also registered the joint-most number of assists (13) in the league.
Although the Catalan club were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Liverpool in the semi-finals in an extraordinary way, Messi was in a good form prior to the elimination and finished as the competition's top goalscorer with 12 goals in 10 games .
The 31-year old will now join Argentine national team for the Copa America and a good time in Brazil could land him his record sixth Ballon d'Or accolade.
#1 Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk has been brilliant for Liverpool ever his move from Southampton in January 2018 and he single-handedly transformed the Reds' unsteady defence into one of Europe's best.
The 27-year-old featured in all league games for the Reds' during the 2018-19 and helped them finish the campaign with the best defensive record. He averaged 1 tackle, 4.8 aerial duals and 5.2 clearances per game and won the PFA Player of the Season accolade.
He also impressed with his performances in the Champions League and played a vital role in the Reds' trophy winning campaign. The Dutchman averaged 1 tackle, 4.8 clearances, 0.8 interceptions, along with with 3.4 aerial duels per game in Europe's elite competition during the 2018-19 season.