Could Mohamed Salah make a late surge for the Ballon d’Or?

When announcing the Ballon d’Or shortlist Lionel Messi was the clear favourite for the prestigious individual award. But it's no surprise to see a certain Liverpool forward creeping up on the rails.

Liverpool's Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah has put his name firmly in the hat to be awarded the 2021 Ballon d'Or following his incredible performances this season.

Lionel Messi still finds himself as the odds-on favourite to win the award but is Salah a lively contender at a bigger price?

Last year's ceremony was cancelled due to Covid-19, which perhaps places even more importance on this year's event, on November 29 in Paris. With only a month until the award is handed to the winner, Mohamed Salah seems to be hitting form at just the right time of year.

Other players leading the market currently are Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho, his Chelsea teammate and France international N'Golo Kante and Manchester United and Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo.

Why could Salah win it?

After bagging a hat-trick against old rivals Manchester United in Liverpool's convincing 5-0 win, Salah has seen his Ballon d'Or odds slashed from 16/1 into 11/1.

His display at Old Trafford was only a glimpse of what he has been doing all year.

In nine Premier League starts this season, he has averaged over a goal-a-game, having found the net on 10 occasions. In addition, the 'Egyptian King' has only failed to score in one league match so far and is currently on a seven consecutive Premier League scoring streak. He must have an eye on Jamie Vardy's record of netting in 11 league games in a row.

Furthermore, he has scored in nine straight games in all competitions and it doesn't seem like the run will stop anytime soon.

His contributions to the Liverpool cause have helped Jurgen Klopp's team into second-place in the Premier League standings just a point behind leaders Chelsea. They are also still in all cup competitions and have a 100% record in the Champions League after three matches and are comfortably top of their group.

Salah has also started his Champions League campaign in scintillating form, with five goals coming from the Egyptian already.

In recent weeks, Klopp has gone on record to say that Salah is the best player in the world right now and it is difficult to disagree with the German.

Overall, Salah has 29 goals and seven assists so far in 2021, with 15 of his goals coming this campaign.

However, goals are not everything when winning the Ballon d'Or as Luka Modric proved in 2018, when he was named the winner.

That year Salah broke the record for the highest number of goals in a Premier League season with 32, didn't even make it into the top three. The fact that the Croatian Modric helped his country to a World Cup final and also won the Champions League final with Real Madrid tipped the balance in his favour.

Salah will be hoping that this time around his performances throughout the year have been enough to earn him his first-ever Ballon d'Or as he bids to become only the second African player to win the award, following George Weah's success in 1995.

Who else could win the Ballon d'Or?

PSG Forward LIONEL MESSI in action during the UEFA Champions League Group stage Group A Day 3 between Paris Saint Germain and RB Leipzig at Parc des Princes Stadium.

Heading the current betting is none other than Lionel Messi, who is aiming for a seventh Ballon d'Or to add to his incredible list of achievements. So far in 2021, the Argentinian has 40 goals to his name and has switched Spain for France to join giants PSG.

It is though his international achievements that perhaps give him the best chance of winning the award once again.

In the summer, Messi broke his duck, having not won a major international trophy, until he led Argentina to glory in the Copa America.

This ended a 27 year Copa America drought for the Argentinians and that victory could hold the key for Messi to gain yet another Ballon d'Or.

His contributions on the pitch were vital. He scored four goals, putting him joint-top of the charts and set up five goals too.

The left-footed superstar continues to break records and can't be ignored as the favourite to be crowned the winner at the end of November in Paris.

Robert Lewandowski celebration Bayern Munich Oct21

Robert Lewandowski is the second-favourite to win the award having helped Bayern win the league again and beat Gerd Muller's long-standing record for goals scored in a season. Lewandowski notched a huge 41 times.

So far this season the Poland international has scored 10 in nine Bundesliga appearances and like Salah, has five goals in only three Champions League outings.

Poland's group stage elimination at Euro 2020 will count against him but he did still manage to score three times in three games for his nation.

Next up is Chelsea's Italian midfielder Jorginho who won the Champions League and the European Championship in 2021. It has been an exceptional year for Jorginho by anyone's standards, even if he did miss a penalty in the Euro 2020 final against England. 

The Brazil-born Italy international, was awarded the UEFA Player of the Year award, which could improve his chances of lifting the coveted Ballon d'Or too.

He cannot be overlooked having played almost every game for club and country and winning the two biggest trophies on offer this year.

Read more: Five Manchester United managers who were far worse than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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