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Betting Special: Messi the early Ballon d'Or favourite ahead of Ronaldo and Mbappe

15:01 SAST 2019/03/20
Lionel Messi, Barcelona
The Barcelona star followed up some excellent La Liga performances with a dominant Champions League display to assert himself as the man to beat

Lionel Messi has established himself as the early favourite to scoop another Ballon d’Or after a stunning start to 2019.

The Barcelona forward, who is looking to win the award for the first time since 2014, has scored 14 times in 11 La Liga games this calendar year, including two hat-tricks.

William Hill price him as a 10/11 (1.91) shot to win the award for the sixth time and eclipse eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese also reached five in 2017.

Messi put in a sumptuous performance in the Champions League last 16 second legs, scoring twice and assisting two further goals as Barca swept Lyon aside 5-1 at Camp Nou, to set up a quarter-final clash with Manchester United.

He wasn’t the only one to shine in Europe, though. Ronaldo netted a super hat-trick at home to Atletico Madrid as Juventus overturned a 2-0 deficit, and the 34-year-old is 6/1 (7.0) second-favourite.

Ronaldo finished second behind Luka Modric last term after winning the previous two awards and has made a good start to the calendar year in Serie A, too, recording five goals and four assists in seven games.

Kylian Mbappe is available at 8/1 (9.0) after taking the mantle at Paris Saint-Germain thanks to an injury to Neymar, allowing the Frenchman to score 12 times in 10 Ligue 1 fixtures this year.

However, his prospects of individual glory could be hampered by PSG’s last 16 exit from the Champions League as they lost 3-1 at home to Manchester United, surrendering a 2-0 aggregate lead and going out on away goals.

It's worth noting that with no major international tournament this summer, there is likely to be even more emphasis on the domestic and European achievements to determine the recepient of the 2019 prize.

Mbappe's PSG teammate Neymar can be found at 16/1 (17.0) but the Brazilian is yet to return to action following the injury he sustained in January, and will need a stunning second half of the year to claim the Ballon d’Or.

He joins Eden Hazard and last year’s third-place finisher Antoine Griezmann at that price, with both the Chelsea and Atletico Madrid players struggling to reach the dizzying heights they have done previously.

Sergio Aguero (20/1) leads the Premier League Golden Boot race and is showing no signs of slowing down at 30 years old, whilst Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk – credited with transforming the Reds’ defence – is 25/1 (26.0) along with Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah.