Another mesmeric Mohamed Salah performance has prompted plenty of pundits and supporters to suggest the Liverpool forward should win the Ballon d’Or.
Salah scored two and created two more as Liverpool thrashed Roma 5-2 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals, with Steven Gerrard labelling Salah “the best player on the planet right now”.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the award over the past decade and are in fact the only currently active players to have lifted the trophy after Kaka, who won the 2007 edition, retired last year.
The pair are having typically exceptional seasons, but Salah – who finished 29th in the voting last season – is emerging as a serious contender for the award.
We’ve taken a deeper look at the stats to compare the trio and try our best to work out who is in the front seat to win the Ballon d’Or.
Everyone thought Antoine Griezmann or Neymar would end the Messi-Ronaldo Ballon d'Or era, but now a magical Egyptian called Mohamed Salah has emerged as the big contender.
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) April 24, 2018
All three players have scored a ludicrous number of goals in all competitions this season, with Salah out in front on 43, Ronaldo on 42 and Messi on 40.
In league competition – and thereby in the race for the European Golden Boot – Salah is the most prolific, having scored 31 goals in the Premier League so far this term.
Messi is just behind on 29 in La Liga, while Ronaldo’s disappointing start to the domestic season leaves him on 24.
However, the Real Madrid man has smashed an impressive 15 goals in the Champions League, extending his lead as the record scorer in the history of the European Cup.
Salah’s brace against former club Roma took him to 11 in Europe this term – including one in Liverpool’s Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim – while Messi managed just six goals before Roma’s incredible comeback which saw Barcelona eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Ronaldo is the most prolific of the trio, scoring every 79 minutes in all competitions this season, while Salah averages just better than a goal a game, netting once every 87 minutes, while Messi has scored every 104 minutes.
The Portugal captain has scored seven times from the penalty spot, however, while Messi has netted three penalties and just one of Salah’s 43 goals has come from 12 yards.
Combining the league and European competition, Salah has taken just 170 shots in 44 appearances so far this season, averaging a goal every 4.15 shots.
Messi has hit 222 shots, averaging a goal every 6.34 shots, while Ronaldo has hit 238 shots in just 35 appearances, scoring every 6.10 shots.
If you want to earn yourself some money, using a bet365 bonus code to back any of these three to score is a pretty safe bet.
EUROPE’S LEADING GOALSCORERS
Top 5 Leagues – All competitions
*As of today*
1. Mo Salah – 43 goals
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – 42 goals
3. Ciro Immobile – 41 goals
4. Lionel Messi – 40 goals
Who will be the Top Scorer for this season?
— Harimau Malaya (@harimaumalaya7) April 25, 2018
Despite trailing in number of goals scored, Messi more than makes up for it with his selflessness, setting up team-mates 18 times across all competitions this season.
Salah has claimed 15 assists to date, meaning he and Messi are level having scored and created a combined 58 goals each.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has claimed just seven assists this season, meaning he has been directly involved in nine fewer goals than Salah and Messi.
Chance creation statistics follow suit, with Messi leading the way and Ronaldo way behind.
Combining numbers from the Champions League and their respective domestic leagues, the Argentine has created a chance for a team-mate 95 times this season, an average of 2.5 chances per 90 minutes.
Salah has created 81 chances so far this season, at a rate of 2.1 per 90 minutes, while Ronaldo’s 52 sees him create an average of 1.5 chances per 90 minutes.
FC Barcelona 2017/18:
Most goals: Leo Messi
Most assists: Leo Messi
Most dribbles: Leo Messi
Most chances created: Leo Messi
Most key passes: Leo Messi
Most through balls: Leo Messi
Most MOTM: Leo Messi
Leo carrying club and country 🐐 pic.twitter.com/ESC94ZdrKP
— infosmessi (@INFOSMESSl) April 23, 2018
Perhaps surprisingly, Ronaldo has attempted the fewest dribbles of the three, attempting just 74 all season, or 2.2 per 90 minutes.
Salah has attempted 152, or 3.9 per 90 minutes, while Messi has taken on 292 dribbles so far this term, attempting 7.5 every 90 minutes.
In terms of successful dribbles, the Barcelona forward manages 5.2 per 90 minutes of football, and has in fact completed 201 successful dribbles this season – almost three times the number Ronaldo has even attempted.
The Real Madrid man averages 1.5 successful dribbles per 90 minutes, while Salah averages 2.6 at a success rate of 67.1%. Ronaldo is successful with 70.3% of his dribbles, and Messi 68.8%.
But when it comes to losing possession, Ronaldo has the best numbers, being dispossessed just 0.9 times per 90 minutes, also averaging 1.4 unsuccessful touches – both those stats are lower than the corresponding numbers for Salah and Messi.
Argentina captain Messi is dispossessed on average 3.4 times per 90 minutes, taking 1.7 unsuccessful touches, with Salah averaging 3.2 unsuccessful touches and being dispossessed 2.8 times per 90 minutes.
Ronaldo fans claim he used to be close to Messi as a dribbler?! His most successful season was in 09/10, when he averaged 3.1 successful dribbles per game, with 3.0 unsuccessful. And at 29 it's said he had to change his game, due to age.. Messi though at 30 puts up those stats…
— Veron (@MesmericMessi) April 24, 2018
Somewhat predictably, Messi averages 55.3 passes per 90 minutes, with 44.5 successful, significantly more than either Ronaldo or Salah.
Both in fact have similar numbers when it comes to passing, with Salah averaging 30 passes per 90 minutes and Ronaldo 29.5.
The 33-year-old is successful with 23.9 of his passes per 90 minutes, while Liverpool man Salah averages 22.7 completed passes.
Ronaldo actually has a better completion rate than Messi, with 81.2% of his passes finding a team-mate. The Barcelona No.10 is successful with 80.6% of his passes, while Salah completes 75.9% of his.
Messi leads the way when it comes to tackling, averaging 0.6 successful tackles per 90 minutes, attempting 1.1 on average.
Salah, meanwhile, attempts an average of 1.0 tackles per 90 minutes, winning the ball back an average of 0.4 times, while Ronaldo is successful 0.3 times per 90 minutes, from 0.5 attempted tackles.
The Egyptian makes an average of 0.3 interceptions per 90 minutes, with Ronaldo and Messi both averaging 0.2.
Basically how this is going to work:
Salah wins Ballon D’Or if: Liverpool win UCL & Argentina, Brazil or Portugal don’t win the WC.
Messi wins Ballon D’Or if: he wins WC
Ronaldo wins Ballon D’Or if: wins UCL & Argentina doesn’t win WC.
Neymar wins Ballon D’Or: Brazil wins WC.
— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) April 24, 2018