Lionel Messi Clear Ballon d’Or Favourite Over Virgil van Dijk
Lionel Messi poses with one of his five previous Ballon d'Or awards (© PA Images)
The winner of the prestigious Ballon d’Or will be announced on Monday and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is now the overwhelming favourite to take the prize.
Messi is now heavily odds-on at 1/9 with Betfair and Paddy Power to win his sixth Golden Ball award amid reports emanating from Spain that the Argentine has already been informed he has won the honour again.
Messi, who won the Best FIFA Men's player award in September, now looks likely to do the double and add the Ballon d’Or to his individual honours, with some bookmakers even suspending betting on the market such is the apparent likelihood.
Messi enjoyed a memorable 2018/19 campaign winning La Liga with Barcelona and he finished as top scorer in last season's Champions League with 12 goals and won the European Golden Shoe as the continent's top scorer.
Liverpool and Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk was the long-time favourite to pip Messi to the award after enjoying a stellar 12 months for club and country.
Van Dijk was named Uefa Player of the Year in August after helping Liverpool win last season's Champions League and leading the Netherlands to the final of the inaugural Nations League final last summer, which signalled he was favourite to be recognised as the world's best player by France Football.
However, Van Dijk, who was as short as 2/5 to win the Ballon d’Or less than a week ago, has drifted out to 6/1 to lift the most coveted individual prize in football and in the process become the first defender to win the award since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished third behind Messi and van Dijk in the Best FIFA Mens player awards, comes next in the betting at 25/1 to win a sixth Ballon d’Or after he won the Serie A title in his first season at Juventus and guided Portugal to Nations League success.
Van Dijk's Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane has been tipped by some top players across Europe to be named the winner of Ballon d’Or after picking up where he left off last season to help Liverpool to the top of the Premier League with some outstanding performances, but the Senegal international is the rank outsider with the top bookmakers at 66/1 to win the honour.
Last year was the first time in a decade that neither Messi nor Ronaldo was named Ballon d’Or winner with Luka Modric scooping the prize, but it appears normal order has been restored this year and Messi is set to rewrite the history books by winning his sixth Golden Ball award and regaining his place at the summit of world football.
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