Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
According to Pele, Leo Messi needs to add a right foot and an ability to head the ball to win the Ballon d’Or again. The five-times winner was left behind in fifth in the 2018 rankings and that’s mainly down to what scientists at NASA have named ‘Messi-flation'.
Scoring a mountain of goals?…What else?
Winning La Liga?…What else?
Winning Champions League?…What else?
Actually, being the best player in the world?….What else?
All paths to Ballon d’Or victory in 2019 for Messi involve both winning a major title for Barcelona and that all-important, mythical victory for Argentina. The 2019 Copa America on Brazilian soil is the antidote for La Pulga to counter the Messi-ennui which has struck voters in recent years.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
To say that Camp Ronaldo was annoyed to have not won the 2018 Ballon d’Or trophy is an understatement with CR7’s sister saying that God would judge those who dared vote against her brother in favor of Luka Modric.
Max Allegri, Ronaldo’s new boss at Juventus, has said that his new charge deserved the title in 2018 and will be all-out to win a sixth in 2019.
The path to victory for Ronaldo is a strong one with the player being able to tick both club and country boxes. The Serie A title is all but sewn up for Juventus. Ronaldo is well on the way to becoming the league’s top scorer in his first season in Italy and Juventus are strong favorites to reach the Champions League final.
Ronaldo will then have the chance to lead Portugal to the inaugural UEFA Nations League trophy on home soil in 2019. Four chances of glory and four chances to take his top off before picking up the Ballon d’Or and restoring justice to the universe according to Ronaldo’s sibling.
Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)
The token Frenchman on the 2018 podium, Antoine Griezmann is going to have to up his game considerably to move up two spots.
The path is a tough one one for the Frenchman who will not see any significant action for France. Griezmann needs to lead Atletico Madrid to both the La Liga title - or come really close - and pick up the 2019 Champions League while scoring the winning goal in the final. With an overhead kick. Against Ronaldo’s Juventus.
Neymar’s 2018 was so abject that no-one really noticed that the Brazilian was nowhere to be seen in awards season, accept sulking and playing on-line games. This was not part of the great Neymar Masterplan when moving from PSG to Barcelona.
But, there is a clear way forward.
Undo all the brand damage from the World Cup diving business. Wrap up a domestic treble for PSG, become the top scorer (the bare minimum expected), take PSG to at least the Champions League final AND…captain Brazil to the Copa America title on home soil in 2019.
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
There may be room for only one PSG player on the 2019 Ballon d’Or podium should PSG show a return on a billion dollar investment and move mountains in the Champions League. And that’s likely to be Neymar. Mbappe’s France is largely inactive and Neymar’s potential success in the Copa America is going to be the tie-breaker between the PSG pair.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
The only path for Modric to be allowed to win again is a secret Freaky Friday body swap with Cristiano Ronaldo. Scraping into the top four in La Liga with Real Madrid is not going to cut the mustard for Modric in a 2019 repeat attempt.
🏆🇭🇷 @lukamodric10 takes the 2018 #BallondOr— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) December 3, 2018
🗣 "As a kid we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club, to win important trophies ... It's an honor and a privilege to hold this trophy tonight." pic.twitter.com/s1IQ4sdejS
Kun Aguero (Manchester City)
Think when a long-standing and respected director or actor is given a first award for a not particularly strong performance that year, but as guilt for overlooking a career’s body of work.
Think Martin Scorsese winning Best Director in 2007 for The Departed.
That’s Kun Aguero. Amazing for a decade but pretty much overlooked by his peers in that time. That could change this season with Manchester City and a very achievable route to glory - top scorer in the Premier League, Premier League winner, Champions League finalist, winning the Copa America with Argentina. If three of these are done, then it will be Kun-do attitude and a podium finish in 2019 for the Man City man.
2019 Ballon d'Or Predictions
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Kun Aguero