Liverpool dominate Ballon d’Or shortlist with seven names - GulfToday

Liverpool dominate Ballon d’Or shortlist with seven names

Liverpool dominate Ballon d’Or shortlist with seven names

Real Madrid’s Luka Modric is one of the topmost contenders for the award. Agence France-Presse

Champions League winner Liverpool dominated the nominations for the football’s most prestigious awards Ballon d’Or as seven of their players were named in the preliminary list released on Monday.

Dutch centre back Virgil van Dijk is one of seven Liverpool players on the 30-man shortlist for this year’s Ballon d’Or, with the Champions League winners dominating the nominations for France Football magazine’s prestigious award.

Dutch centre back Virgil van Dijk team-mates Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alisson are also on the list, along with Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero.

Virgil Van Dijk, 28, who has had an impressive six months with liverpool lifting the Champions League, could become a rare defensive winner of the men’s award.  Fabio Cannavaro was the last defender to win in 2006, and only the fourth since the award began in 1956.

Juventus playmaker Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s star striker Lionel Messi, who have won the award 10 times between them, are also included, but Paris St Germain’s Neymar missed out.

Neymar, who cost the French club 222 million euros ($247 million) in 2017, failed to make the 30-man shortlist after a year overshadowed by injury, suspension and controversy for both club and country. The other high-profile omission form the was Manchester United’s Paul Pogba while Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made the cut, but there was no room for their team-mate Harry Kane.

While Megan Rapinoe is the leading candidate for the second ever women’s Ballon D’Or, the holder of the men’s award, Luka Modric also missed out. Modric, fresh from guiding Croatia to a World Cup final, broke the 11-year Ronaldo- Messi, who are both included, stranglehold on the men’s award last year.

Messi has just collected the FIFA Best award, as did Rapinoe, which split from the Ballon D’Or in 2016. Rapinoe dominated the Women’s World Cup, on and off the field, in the summer.

She was joint top scorer and was voted player of the tournament as she led the United States to victory in France in July.

The 34-year-old Reign FC playmaker, already a campaigner for LGBT rights and gender equality, made headlines during the tournament by publicly taking on US President Donald Trump.

Last year, Norwegian Ada Hegerberg was the first women’s winner. The Lyon forward did not play in the World Cup but is among the 20 nominees as are stars who were present at the competition, such as Australia striker Sam Kerr, England’s Lucy Bronze and France captain Amandine Henry.

Agence France-Presse