Enough said; the wait is finally over! Today’s the day when the battle for the coveted Ballon d’Or between Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk will finally be settled. A lot has already been said about the honour, but it has come down to these two figures out of the 30-man shortlist.
However, have you ever wondered how the shortlist is prepared in the first place? Or even on what grounds a winner is declared? There has indeed been a lot of dissension in the past over the winners, and this is how they were picked.
Preparing the shortlist
Back in October this year, a 30-man shortlist was announced for this year’s honour and the editorial team of France football is completely responsible for it. Once the shortlist is prepared, a jury consisting of top journalists from around the globe are asked to vote for the players they think are worthy of the title. The thing to note is, only one journalist per country can cast his/her vote. The jury, meanwhile, is also made of national team coaches and captains.
Every member of the jury is asked to cast their vote on the following criteria:
- Individual and collective performances (winners) during the year.
- Player class (talent and fair play).
- Player’s career.
Every voter is asked to select five best players in descending order on the back of the aforementioned traits. The player in the first place gets six points, the second gets four points, while the rest in the list get three, two and one point respectively.
The journalists can pick players from their countries, but the captains cannot vote for themselves. They, however, can vote for their national or club teammates.
The votes are then counted, and the player with most points is declared the winner. In case of a tie in points for the first place, player who got more votes in first place is given the title.
Ballon d’Or 2019 shortlist
Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Man City), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappe (PSG), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Alisson (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Heung-Min Son (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Bernardo Silva (Man City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Riyad Mahrez (Man City), Kevin De Bruyne (Man City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (PSG), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Who’s backing who
Eden Hazard: "I would give it to a Liverpool player. Mane, Salah or Van Djik deserve it. If Sadio had won AFCON with Senegal, there would have been no debate. It would be beautiful if he won it. Or Momo [Salah], who is one of my friends. It would be a good thing for both African and English football."
Iker Casillas: "Van Dijk was the best player for UEFA, Messi was the best for FIFA. Imagine if Cristiano wins the Ballon d'Or? It would seem to me that the guidelines we follow in football to give prizes do not have much logic."
Jurgen Klopp: “If you give the Ballon d'Or to the best player of this generation then you should give it always to Lionel Messi,” Klopp said. “That’s how it is.
“But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk. I don't know exactly how it will work but that is how I see it.
“The best player of all? That's Lionel. Best player of last season? That’s Virgil. We will see.”
Kylian Mbappe: "Messi. In individual terms, he was the best this year."
Recent stories across the globe are culminating that year’s Ballon d’Or has gone to Messi, who has received 446 points. Van Dijk, on the other hand, is second in the list with 382 points. His teammate, Mohamed Salah is third with 179 points.
Cristiano Ronaldo is way off the list, sitting fourth with just 133 points. The rest of the spots are occupied by Mane, Alisson Becker, Mbappe, Frankie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Eden Hazard.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Thomas Samson