Ballon d'Or 2019: Neymar, Reus, Messi & the top candidates for next year's award

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The Croatia captain beat out Messi and Ronaldo to win the top individual honour in football, but who's in contention to scoop up the award in 2019?

Luka Modric being named the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner broke the 10-year stronghold that was the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly of the award.

The Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder became the first footballer since Kaka in 2007 that wasn't Messi or Ronaldo, and potentially marked the start of a new era in sport following the two-horse race that had dominated the Ballon d'Or award over the past decade.

Goal takes an early look at potential candidates for next year's honour.

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    Kylian Mbappe | PSG & France

    At just 19 years old, Mbappe finished fourth in the 2018 Ballon d'Or rankings, and has already achieved more than most people will in five lifetimes.

    Having already lifted the World Cup with France and leading PSG to consistent success, Mbappe was crowned the inaugural Kopa Trophy winner in 2018 and could very well gun for winning the Ballon d'Or in 2019.

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    Luis Suarez | Barcelona & Uruguay

    The Uruguay striker finished 13th in the 2018 rankings in a season that saw him score twice in the World Cup semi-finals and score 25 seasons in the 2017-18 La Liga season.

    Though his prolific form as a forward has somewhat been consistently overshadowed by the ever-presence of Messi, he has been an important player for Barcelona since his move from Liverpool in 2014.

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    Eden Hazard | Chelsea & Belgium

    The midfield has had such a strong year with Belgium and Chelsea – winning the FA Cup with his club and finishing third at the World Cup in Russia – that he has captured the attention of European champions Real Madrid.
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    Paulo Dybala | Juventus & Argentina

    Dybala has already proven to be an instrumental forward player for Juventus alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and has been an emerging prospect with the Argentina side, with the next year being an opportunity for the striker to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi for his national team.
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    Raheem Sterling | Manchester City & England

    The young forward has been going from strength to strength under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad, having been instrumental in his side's title win in 2017-18 and once again a pivotal force as Man City once again attempt to lift a second successive Premier League title.

    A Nations League semi-final meeting against the Netherlands is an opportunity for Sterling to prove himself even further for a Ballon d'Or contender, after not even being named in the initial 2018 30-man shortlist.

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    Marcelo | Real Madrid & Brazil

    Marcelo remains one of the most important and integral players for Real Madrid, having delivered two assists in the Champions League final against Liverpool and solidifying himself as one of the most established left-backs in the modern game.

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    Mohamed Salah | Liverpool & Egypt

    Salah hasn't quite yet managed to live up to the expectations that he set for himself in his debut season at Anfield so far, but it's still the first half of the term – and a strong campaign with the Reds and a successful tournament with Egypt at next year's AFCON can see him contend for the top fotballing honour.
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    Antoine Griezmann | Atletico Madrid & France

    Griezmann finished third in the Ballon d'Or rankings in a year that involved him winning the Europa League with Atletico Madrid and the World Cup with France – something he thought made him worthy of being named the winner ahead of Luka Modric – and will likely vie to finish in first place for next year's award.
  9. Gabriele Maltinti

    Cristiano Ronaldo | Juventus & Portugal

    The Portugese international was the Ballon d'Or winner in 2017, and finished second to former teammate Luka Modric in 2018.

    A Champions League win with Juventus in 2019 will surely cement his status as a sure-fire contender to clinch his sixth Ballon d'Or trophy.

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    Leroy Sane | Manchester City & Germany

    Time will tell if Joachim Low's snubbing of Sane for Germany's World Cup squad was a mistake, but at club level, the winger is already a deadly force under Pep Guardiola.
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    Lionel Messi | Barcelona & Argentina

    Messi finishing fifth in the 2018 Ballon d'Or was a surprise to many, despite Barcelona winning La Liga – though Argentina's disappointing World Cup campaign in Russia may have affected the vote.

    The forward has another chance to win a sixth Ballon d'Or next year, however, should he again achieve success at club level, and a strong Copa America tournament with Argentina in 2019 should he decide to rejoin his national team.

  12. Dean Mouhtaropoulos

    Marco Reus | Borussia Dortmund & Germany

    At 29 years old, Reus' Dortmund has been plagued with injury and recovery, but the 2018-19 Bundesliga season could be the when the forward finally establishes himself as a Ballon d'Or contender.

    Reus scored twice in November's Klassiker against rivals Bayern Munich that ended in a thrilling 3-2 victory for Dortmund as they continue their dominance at the top of the Bundesliga table.

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    Alisson | Liverpool & Brazil

    Alisson has already proved that the £56m price tag Liverpool paid for him to make him the then-most expensive goalkeeper in the world (later surpassed by the transfer of Kepa) has been worth every penny, with world-class saves against the likes of PSG and Everton.
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    Neymar | PSG & Brazil

    It's been well-known that Neymar moved to PSG for the sole purpose of escaping the shadow of Messi, but having arrived at the Ligue 1 side, he's been flanked by the scintillating form of teammates Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.

    His theatrics with Brazil during the World Cup may have been a factor in his 12th-placed finish at the 2018 Ballon d'Or ceremony, but an inspiring Copa America campaign in 2019 with his national team could make him a favourite to win next year's honour.

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    Kevin De Bruyne | Manchester City & Belgium

    Kevin De Bruyne established himself as one of the world's best midfielders after Man City's breathtaking 2017-18 league victory, and a third-placed finish in the World Cup with Belgium earned him the #9 ranking in the most recent Ballon d'Or.

    The Belgium playmaker is set to contend for another chance at winning the Ballon d'Or should he remain fit for the majority for the current season, as Manchester City look poised for success in both the Premier League and Champions League once again.