You must go back to 2007 to find the last time a player other than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or. When the ultimate individual honour in world football is presented this year, the winner of the Ballon d’Or 2018 is likely to come from one of these two players.
However, a starring role at the World Cup could change things and there are other big names who are itching to get their name at the top of the list for the Ballon d’Or 2018. Here are 3 possible contenders:
Mohamed Salah enjoyed a fantastic season for Liverpool, finishing as the top scorer in the Premier League and winning an array of individual honours. However, despite leading Egypt to the World Cup finals, Salah was injured for the first match against Uruguay and his team lost 1-0.
Salah did start the match against Russia and scored from the penalty spot. It wasn’t enough and Egypt lost 3-1 to the hosts and were eliminated from the tournament. Even if Salah was to score a hattrick in the match against Saudi Arabia, it would probably not be enough to see him win the Ballon d’Or 2018.
Neymar struggled with injury during the latter stages of the European club season for Paris Saint-Germain. Despite making only 20 appearances for PSG in Ligue 1, Neymar scored 19 goals. The Brazilian also enjoyed a good scoring record in the Champions League, netting 6 times in 7 games and would have scored many more goals during the 2017/18 campaign if it was not for injury.
Neymar has an opportunity at the World Cup to lead Brazil to the trophy and they are one of the favourites. If Neymar was to step up and score the goals which took Brazil to the top of world football, he would propel himself to the top of the list as a potential outsider to win the Ballon d’Or 2018.
Kevin De Bruyne enjoyed a tremendous season for Manchester City, leading them to the Premier League title under Pep Guardiola. His performances were not enough to land him the top individual honours in English football but the attacking midfielder has a great chance to show the planet what he can do at the World Cup.
Belgium have a team full of top quality individual talent and it showed in their match against Panama. De Bruyne provided a delightful assist for the second goal of the game and will be instrumental if Belgium are to go on and reach the final of the tournament.
Pavel Nedved was the last true midfield player to win the Ballon d’Or, doing so in 2003 while at Juventus. De Bruyne could be the next midfielder to win the individual honour if his name is announced at the Ballon d’Or 2018 award ceremony.