Mo Salah next? The 10 PL players who made the Ballon d’Or podium

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Portgual's Cristiano Ronaldo holds the Ballon D'Or

Mo Salah’s performances of late have been nothing short of stunning.

From the incredible goals against Manchester City and Watford to his demolition of Manchester United, Salah has reasserted himself as one of the world’s foremost footballing talents.

The Egyptian’s sensational performances have seen him inch closer to the most prodigious individual award in football, the Ballon d’Or.

But to win the elusive honour is a rarity for players based in the Premier League and especially in the era of Lionel Messi, who is strongly tipped to further distance himself from anyone else in history by claiming his seventh title.

Even Salah in 2018 didn’t make the podium, finishing sixth after scoring 32 Premier League goals, taking Liverpool to a Champions League final and leading Egypt at a first World Cup since Italia 90.

So here are the only 10 Premier League players to have made the Ballon d’Or podium, including the two who won it.

Eric Cantona

Cantona is not just thought of fondly at Manchester United, but he is worshipped at the church of Old Trafford.

The footballing exploits of King Eric are the stuff of legends and understandably so, arriving from historic rivals Leeds in January 1993, with whom he had won the first division the season before, to reach new heights under Sir Alex Ferguson and lead Manchester United to the first Premier League title in 1992-93.

It was the Red Devils’ first English league title since 1967 and Cantona’s performances earned him a Ballon d’Or nomination, finishing third as Roberto Baggio won the 1993 award.

Alan Shearer

Fresh off of Euro 96 and moving to boyhood club Newcastle after turning down Manchester United and Real Madrid, Shearer was nominated for the Ballon d’Or and rightly so.

The leading all-time Premier League goalscorer had fired Blackburn to the title two seasons before with 34 goals and scored 31 the season after. He then won the golden boot at Euro 96.

Unequivocally the best striker in the world at the time, you have to wonder if he’d have won the award if England had managed to clinch the Euros. As it was, the Ballon d’Or went to Dortmund’s Matthias Sammer.

David Beckham

The 1999 Ballon d’Or is a point of contention for United fans as, despite Beckham playing a leading role in the treble triumph, Barcelona’s Rivaldo took the prize.

Beckham finished second, agonisingly close to the award that would have legitimised him as a footballer and more than just a celebrity. But with his three winners medals in just that one season, he probably wasn’t too upset.

Michael Owen

The first Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or since Kevin Keegan in 1979 and the first player playing in England since George Best in 1968, Michael Owen broke the barrier to claim the 2001 award.

Owen was on fire for Liverpool in the 2000-01 season as the Merseyside club claimed three major honours with the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. Real Madrid’s Raul finished runner-up.

Thierry Henry

Henry is one of the Ballon d’Or’s biggest nearly men. Twice he made the podium while at Arsenal, only to lose out in both 2003 and 2006.

He finished 2003 in second, losing out to Pavel Nedved of Juventus, and many Arsenal fans still can’t believe he didn’t win the award after becoming the first player in history to notch up over 20 league goals and assists in one season.

In 2006 Arsenal lost out in the Champions League final and Henry lost out on the Ballon d’Or again, finishing third.

READ: When Thierry Henry completely took the piss out of Real Madrid for Arsenal

Frank Lampard

Super Frank won the Premier League with Chelsea in the 2004-05 season, the club’s first top-flight title in 50 years.

He had a remarkable goalscoring season including several in the Champions League where Chelsea lost out in the semi-finals to Liverpool, but he could only finish runner-up to Ronaldinho in the 2005 Ballon d’Or.

Steven Gerrard

In the same season as Lampard came second, Gerrard finished up third in the Ballon d’Or rankings.

The 2004-05 season had seen him produce one of the greatest individual all-time performances in a Champions League final as he helped his Liverpool side come from three down to beat AC Milan on penalties, but it wasn’t enough for the Ballon d’Or.

Cristiano Ronaldo

After finishing runner-up in 2007, the Portuguese star and Manchester United number seven won the Ballon d’Or in 2008.

He was the superstar at the heart of United’s 2007-08 Premier League and Champions League double-winning side, scoring 42 goals in all competitions including the opener in the Champions League final.

He has gone on to win the award a further four times.

Fernando Torres

At times, Torres was simply unplayable in a Liverpool shirt.

His debut Premier League season was the highest scoring of any foreign player in the history of the competition, netting 24 times.

While success with Liverpool evaded him, his goal in the final of the Euros meant Spain won the competition, and he earned a third-placed finish in the 2008 Ballon d’Or.

Virgil van Dijk

In the 2018-19 season, Van Dijk proved himself to be the best central defender in the world as he helped Liverpool to a Champions League triumph.

Whilst the Premier League would elude him for another year, Van Dijk was a rock at the back for Liverpool and his impressive displays earned him a nomination for the Ballon d’Or.

Strongly tipped to win, he only narrowly missed out to Messi.


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