Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have shared football’s most iconic individual prize between them for the past 10 years but this could be the year that the Ballon d’Or duopoly is ended.
The Ballon d’Or is an annual football award presented by France Football. It has been awarded since 1956, although between 2010 and 2015, an agreement was made with FIFA and the award was temporarily merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year, and known as the FIFA Ballon d’Orthe two most prestigious individual honours in world football. It was awarded based on votes from international journalists and national team coaches and captains, who selected the players they deemed to have performed the best in the previous calendar year. However, the partnership ended in 2016 and the award was reversed back to Ballon d’Or, while FIFA also reverted to its own separate annual award (now named The Best FIFA Football Awards).
Luka Modric is the bookmakers’ favourite to claim France Football’s prize, currently held by Ronaldo, after his sparkling form at this summer’s World Cup and there appears to be a growing momentum for a third party to claim the prize. Ronaldo and Messi share the record for most Ballon d’Or wins with five and each have the same number of second-placed finishes. The Barcelona forward has one third-place to his name.Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten have all won the prize three times whilst Kevin Keegan is the only English player to have won it more than once, taking the crown in 1978 and 1979.George Weah was the first non-European player to win the award in 1995 and Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper to ever win the award.
Salah was the top club scorer in Europe last year, scoring 44 goals for Liverpool and he is the current African Player of the Year. A win by Salah or Modric would break a decade-old hold on the trophy by Messi and Ronaldo.