The biggest names in world football will descend on Paris on Monday for the 2019 Ballon d´Or ceremony, with Lionel Messi and USA women´s World Cup superstar Megan Rapinoe tipped to leave with the honours.
It would be an enormous shock if Rapinoe did not depart the Chatelet Theatre with the women´s prize as she returns to the country where she was the driving force on and off the field for the United States as they retained their title.
The suspense surrounds the identity of the men´s winner, 12 months after Croatia´s Luka Modric claimed the crown thanks to his exploits in dragging his country to the World Cup final and winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.
That ended a decade in which Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had won the Ballon d´Or five times each, but the smart money now is on the Barcelona man claiming number six. There are 30 nominees in total for the prize, organised by France Football magazine and voted for by 180 journalists from around the world.
Among the names is Ronaldo, as well as several of the stars of the Liverpool side who won the Champions League, chief among them Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.
At one point he looked like the favourite, but Messi already pipped him to FIFA´s The Best title in September.—AFP