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Ballon d'Or: 3 things that could prevent Lionel Messi from winning the award this year

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40.17K   //    11 May 2019, 13:35 IST

#2 Rise of Virgil van Dijk and other competitors

Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League
Newcastle United v Liverpool FC - Premier League

Although Messi's arch rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, remains a major competitor for the award, there is intense competition from numerous stars this time around. The major threat to Lionel Messi's quest for Ballon d'Or is Virgil van Dijk but one cannot ignore the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah, who are not far behind.

The Dutch center-back won the PFA players' player of the year and it depicts how pivotal van Dijk has been for Liverpool this season. The Reds have conceded just 22 goals in the Premier League campaign so far, which is the best defensive record in the current campaign. van Dijk's impact has been the key for Liverpool, who are second in the league table and they are also in the final of Champions League.

Despite suffering a three-match ban in the French top flight, Kylian Mbappe remains the closest competitor to Lionel Messi in terms of statistics. Mbappe is second in the race for European Golden Shoe with 30 league goals and he has already secured the Ligue 1 title for PSG. Meanwhile, Salah has racked up 26 goals and 13 assists in all competition and he will make a major case for himself, if Liverpool wins the Champions League or Premier League title.