The Ballon d'Or, the most prestigious award of the football fraternity has just dropped the toughest list of nominees in years!

Why toughest?

Messi and Ronaldo together dominated this award category for 10 years! Their game play on the field was unmatched with trebles (Copa del Rey + La Liga + Champions league) and highest ‘goals scored’ accredited to them.

This time it’s a bit different. Let’s jump straight into the list first. The nominees of the Ballon d'Or award 2018 are *drum rolls please*: 

 Name

Position

Club

Country

Diego Godin

Defender

Atletico Madrid

Uruguay

Antoine Griezmann

Forward

Atletico Madrid

France

Jan Oblak

Goalkeeper

Atletico Madrid

Slovenia

Lionel Messi

Forward

Barcelona

Argentina

Ivan Rakitic

Midfielder

Barcelona

Croatia

Luis Suarez

Forward

Barcelona

Uruguay

N'Golo Kante

Midfielder

Chelsea

France

Eden Hazard

Forward

Chelsea

Belgium

Mario Mandzukic

Forward

Juventus

Croatia

Cristiano Ronaldo

Forward

Juventus

Portugal

Alisson

Goalkeeper

Liverpool

Brazil

Roberto Firmino

Forward

Liverpool

Brazil

Sadio Mane

Forward

Liverpool

Senegal

Mohamed Salah

Midfielder

Liverpool

Egypt

Kevin de Bruyne

Midfielder

Manchester City

Belgium

Sergio Aguero

Forward

Manchester City

Argentina

Paul Pogba

Midfielder

Manchester United

France

Edinson Cavani

Forward

Paris St-Germain

Uruguay

Kylian Mbappe

Forward

Paris St-Germain

France

Neymar

Forward

Paris St-Germain

Brazil

Raphael Varane

Defender

Real Madrid

France

Gareth Bale

Forward

Real Madrid

Wales

Karim Benzema

Forward

Real Madrid

France

Isco

Midfielder

Real Madrid

Spain

Marcelo

Defender

Real Madrid

Brazil

Thibaut Courtois

Goalkeeper

Real Madrid

Belgium

Luka Modric

Midfielder

Real Madrid

Croatia

Sergio Ramos

Defender

Real Madrid

Spain

Harry Kane

Forward

Tottenham

England

Hugo Lloris

Goalkeeper

Tottenham

France

Let’s break it down a bit. Popular sentiment is not in favor of the top-two Messi and Ronaldo this time around. The competition has widened up. How? –

Gareth Bale – With his dominance on the right flank and a blinder of an overhead kick.

Mohamed (Mo) Salah – The Egyptian messiah with his Golden boot award for the highest goals scored (32) in the 2017-18 EPL title race. Not to forget his FIFA Puskas award. 

Luka ModricThe Best FIFA men's player, Modric, is also in the list with his historic leading of his national team to the World Cup finals – The first time ever for a Croatian side to do so.

Harry KaneEngland’s olden boy, squad front man and only 2nd in the list to Mo Salah’s goal scoring dominance last season.

Kylian MbappeDid you see this 19-year old record breaking goal scoring World Cup winning kid last year? We did!

Ivan RakiticAnother Croatian wonder in the midfield that dominated the in the world cup and also feeds Lionel Messi all those scintillating crosses that finally make the back of the net!

Eden HazardAnother noteworthy name is the highest contender for a Real Madrid transfer, Hazard, Chelsea’s home grown product that took Belgium all the way to the World Cup semis dominating the left flank!

There’s also a certain Lionel Messi who won the La Liga but got knocked out of the World Cup, and a Cristiano Ronaldo who won the Champions league for the 3rd time in a row scoring crucial penalties when it mattered the most but to lose in the qualifying rounds of the World Cup too.

So can we expect a new Ballon d'Or winner after 10 years of a Messi-Ronaldo monopoly?

Well, it’s more probable this time around than in the past decade. Brazilian wonder-kid Kaka was the last person to win this award outside the Ronaldo-Messi winning streak. Who’s it going to be this time? Who’re you placing your money on? 

Stay tuned for the winner’s announcement!