Virgil Van Dijk Odds-On Favourite to Claim 2019 Ballon d’Or

Golden FootballIt’s a tough business being a defender in football, or pretty much any sport for that matter.

You’re expected to put your body, nay, head on the line in the name of the cause, while your attacking teammates take all the plaudits for their goals, assists and creative play.

Well, it appears as if change is on the way….

The shortlist for the Ballon d’Or 2019 has been released, and heading the betting market is a defender that makes the dark art look like a Picasso masterwork.

Virgil van Dijk is as short as 4/9 with the bookies to claim the prestigious prize, and that would make the first defender to lift the trophy since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. The Dutchman would become only the second centre back to win the Ballon d’Or in the past two decades too.

A fantastic year for English football, both domestically and on the continent, has been respected by the judges, with 15 players from English sides nominated for the prize, which will be dished out in a fancy ceremony in Paris on December 2.

Rule Britannia

As Champions League winners, it’s not a big surprise to learn that Liverpool have earned the most nominations on the shortlist.

Seven of Jurgen Klopp’s men are in the running for the Ballon d’Or, including Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gini Wijnaldum and of course Van Dijk.

Man City are next best with five nominations (Sterling, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Aguero and Bernardo Silva), while the London clubs are represented by Hugo Lloris, Son Heung-min and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Player Club Player Club
Sergio Aguero (ARG) Manchester City T Alexander-Arnold (ENG) Liverpool
P-E Aubameyang (GAB) Arsenal Alisson (BRA) Liverpool
Karim Benzema (FRA) Real Madrid Kevin De Bruyne (BEL) Manchester City
Frenkie de Jong (NED) Ajax/Barcelona Matthijs de Ligt (NED) Ajax/Juventus
Joao Felix (POR) Benfica/Atletico Roberto Firmino (BRA) Liverpool
Antoine Griezmann (FRA) Atletico/Barcelona Eden Hazard (BEL) Chelsea/Real Madrid
Kalidou Koulibaly (SEN) Napoli R Lewandowski (POL) Bayern Munich
Hugo Lloris (FRA) Tottenham Hotspur Riyad Mahrez (ALG) Manchester City
Sadio Mane (SEN) Liverpool Marquinhos (BRA) PSG
Kylian Mbappe (FRA) PSG Lionel Messi (ARG) Barcelona
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) Juventus Mohamed Salah (EGY) LIverpool
Bernardo Silva (POR) Manchester City Son Heung-Min (KOR) Tottenham Hotspur
Raheem Sterling (ENG) Manchester City Dusan Tadic (SER) Ajax
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GER) Barcelona Donny van de Beek (NED) Ajax
Vigil van Dijk (NED) Liverpool G Wijnaldum (NED) Liverpool

Perhaps surprisingly, there were snubs for the likes of Harry Kane, David Silva and Paul Pogba.

From a European perspective, both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are nominated – their seven-year monopoly on the Ballon d’Or came to an end courtesy of Luka Modric 12 months ago, while other big names such as Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Eden Hazard are also present on the shortlist.

Notable by their absence are Gareth Bale and Neymar, who have been overlooked in favour of the likes of exciting youngster Joao Felix, Kalidou Koulibaly and – incredibly – former Southampton man Dusan Tadic.

England hasn’t produced a men’s Ballon d’Or winner since Michael Owen in 2001, so the likes of Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold will be looking to end 18 years of hurt in Paris this time around.

Bronze Going for Gold

The nominations for the Women’s Ballon d’Or have also been revealed, with England’s Lucy Bronze and Ellen White featuring highly.

The headliners are undoubtedly World Cup winners Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, while the likes of Marta and Wende Renard – who also impressed at the summer showpiece – are also included.

Player Club Player Club
Kosovare Asllani (SWE) Tacon Sarah Bouhaddi (FRE) Lyon
Lucy Bronze (ENG) Lyon Nilla Fischer (SWE) Linkopings
Pernille Harder (DEN) VfL Wolfsburg Tobin Heath (USA) Portland Thorns
Ada Hegerberg (NOR) Lyon Amandine Henry (FRA) Lyon
Sofia Jakobsson (SWE) Tacon Sam Kerr (AUS) Chicago R S/Perth Glory
Rose Lavelle (USA) Washington Spirit Dzsenifer Marozsan (GER) Lyon
Marta (BRA) Orlando Pride Lieke Martens (NED) Barcelona
Vivianne Miedema (NED) Arsenal Alex Morgan (USA) Orlando Pride
Megan Rapinoe (USA) Reign FC Wendie Renard (FRA) Lyon
Sari van Veenendaal (NED) Atletico Madrid Ellen White (ENG) Manchester City

One of the key names on the list is defending champion Ada Hegerberg, who chose not to play in the World Cup for personal and political reasons. She remains one of the best players on the planet, however, and her exploits for Olympique Lyonnais make her tough to beat here.