Why Bernardo Silva might have a claim to the Ballon d'Or this year
With the curtains being drawn on an electrifying season of European football, it seems there's only one question that everyone wants to know the answer to - who will win the Ballon d'Or 2019?
While the criteria for determining the award winner may be ambiguous to most of us, performances for club and country continue to play a decisive role in swaying votes in favor of the player. All the class and flair shown by an individual on the pitch means nothing if it is not reflected in terms of trophies won throughout the season.
If history is any guide, good performance and success at elite competitions like the UEFA Champions League, as well as major tournaments like World Cup or the Euros, all but guarantee the coveted honor for a player.
Based on what we've seen so far, there might be yet another new challenger rising to stop either of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi from extending their incredible haul of Ballon d'Or awards to a total of six. Given the season he's had, Ronaldo's Portuguese teammate Bernardo Silva has a strong claim to the trophy this year.
On the back of an amazing season with Manchester City, in which he played a pivotal role in the Cityzens' title-retaining run, Silva also scored 13 goals, while laying down 14 more for his teammates. He also added two more trophies in the English top-flight, to complete a domestic treble.
Though his numbers fade in comparison to those of Messi or Ronaldo, they are much better than last year's winner Luka Modric. It should be noted however that the latter was part of the Real Madrid team that won the Champions League for the third time and he also led his nation to their first ever World Cup final appearance, something missing from Silva's list of achievements this season.
Similar to the Croatian midfielder, the agile playmaker has had a prominent impact on the game whenever he has had the ball at his feet.
Though the triumph at the inaugural UEFA Nations League has boosted Ronaldo's odds to be named the world's best footballer, it was the 24-year-old who laid the foundation of the attacks for the Fernando Santos-led team.
In all fairness, when everything is taken into account, it appears that this year's decision will be one of the toughest in years. Messi had a tremendous season with Barcelona, but could only win LaLiga in the end. The Champions League went to Van Dijk, while Ronaldo won two honors with his new club and ended his debut season as their top scorer.
But it is Silva who has won more titles this season than any other player across Europe, and he was an active part in all those conquests. As things stand the title of the most underrated player in the world suits him the best; it remains to be seen if he can really be the standout player at the gala, with Van Dijk, Ronaldo and Messi being heavily favored by the bookies.