Inaugurated over six decades ago, the Ballon d’Or award – the brainchild of sportswriter Gabriel Hanot – has taken on a life of its own since those early years and is now more hotly contested than ever.
Although rewarding an individual’s performance in a team sport could be seen as counterintuitive, it goes without saying that certain special individuals can make all the difference – hence why the “Golden Ball” honours the player deemed to have performed the best over the previous year.
Until recently the Ballon d’Or was exclusively contested between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The pair account for 10 of the last 11 titles between them, and they are once again among the favourites for the 2019 award – although there are some who deem Liverpool centre-back and Dutch international Virgil van Dijk to be this year’s most worthy winner.
Read on for the 2019 Ballon d‘Or ceremony preview, list of contenders and key facts.
When is 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony and where can I watch live?
Venue: Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris
Date: Monday, December 2 2019
UK TV coverage: France Football’s website is set to broadcast the ceremony.
Klopp backs Van Dijk for Ballon d’Or
The Men’s Ballon d’Or contenders (by club)
Arsenal (1): Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Ajax (2): Dusan Tadic and Donny van de Beek.
Atletico Madrid (1): Joao Felix.
Barcelona (4): Frenkie de Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
Bayern Munich (1): Robert Lewandowski.
Juventus (2): Matthijs de Ligt and Cristiano Ronaldo
Liverpool (7): Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino, Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah.
Manchester City (5): Bernardo Silva, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
Napoli (1): Kalidou Koulibaly.
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Paris Saint-Germain (2): Kylian Mbappe and Marquinhos
Real Madrid (2): Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard
Tottenham Hotspur (2): Son Heung-min and Hugo Lloris.
Key facts about the 2019 Ballon d’Or shortlist
- The 2018 recipient, Luka Modric, will not be defending his crown, after being omitted from the 30-man shortlist.
- Liverpool have the most nominated players with seven, two more than Manchester City.
- Robert Lewandowski is the sole Bundesliga representative.
- Half of the nominees are Premier League based (15) with the rest playing in La Liga (7), Serie A (3), Ligue 1 (2), Eredivisie (2) and Bundesliga (1).
- The Netherlands is the best-represented nation with five picks followed by France (4), Brazil and Portugal (3), England, Argentina, Belgium and Senegal (2).
- Gabon, Egypt, Algeria, Serbia, South Korea, Poland and Germany all have one representative.
- Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are nominated for the 16th and 14th time respectively.
- There are 14 first-time nominees including Champions League winners Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
- There are five nominees from Africa – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly, Riyad Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – equalling the feat of 2007 when Didier Drogba, Frédéric Kanouté, Michael Essien, Samuel Eto’o, Mahamadou Diarra and Kolo Toure were nominated.
- For the first time since 1993, there are no Spanish representative with Sergio Ramos a notable omission.
The 2019 Women’s Ballon d’Or contenders (by nationality)
For the second consecutive year, France Football will also award the Women’s Ballon d’Or. Club-wise, the shortlist is dominated by Lyon, who have six nominees including the inaugural winner Ada Hegerberg.
England will have two representatives in the guise of Hegerberg’s club-mate Lucy Bronze and Manchester City forward Ellen White. There are also no fewer than four players from USA’s victorious World Cup team, including Megan Rapinoe, who is the favourite to win.
Australia (1): Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars/Chelsea)
Brazil (1): Marta (Orlando Pride)
England (2): Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Ellen White (Manchester City)
France (3): Amandine Henry (Lyon), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon)
Germany (1): Dzenifer Marozsan (Lyon)
Netherlands (3): Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal/Atletico Madrid)
Norway (1): Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)
Denmark (1): Pernille Harder (VfL Wolfsburg)
Sweden (3): Kosovare Asllani (CD Tacon), Nilla Fischer (Linköpings), Sofia Jakobsson (CD Tacon)
USA (4): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC)
He’s a centre-half
He’s a number four
Watch him defend
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Watch him win the Ballon d’Or
Here’s why Liverpool fans could be changing the lyrics next year. ? pic.twitter.com/vV99KA5XKQ
— Coral (@Coral) July 4, 2019
What else will be decided?
The Yashin Award – named after Russia legend Lev Yashin, who remains the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or – sees four Premier League shot-stoppers in contention.
Alisson (Liverpool) leads Ederson (Man City), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea) and Hugo Lloris (Spurs) with Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Andre Onana (Ajax), Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus) and Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona) completing the list.
And, finally, there is the Kopa Trophy, which is awarded to the best-performing player under 21 and chosen by former Ballon d‘Or winners.
— #BallondOr (@francefootball) December 3, 2018
Kylian Mbappe won in the first year of its inception but will not be defending his crown. Of the 10 nominated there are five based in Spain – Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), João Félix (Atletico Madrid), Vinícius Júnior (Real Madrid), Lee Kang-in (Valencia) and Andriy Lunin (Real Valladolid) – with Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) the sole English representative.
Mattéo Guendouzi (Arsenal) and Moise Kean (Everton), meanwhile, fly the flag for the Premier League while Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus) goes in as one of the strong favourites to win.