Ronaldo and Salah Battling for Ballon d’Or Glory

Gabe Morency

Friday, April 27, 2018 6:27 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 27, 2018 6:27 PM UTC

Several bookmakers have installed Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah as the new favourite to win the Ballon d’Or after his stunning performance against Roma on Tuesday. The Egyptian has been a revelation since joining the Reds.
<p>Several bookmakers have installed Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah as the new favourite to win the Ballon d’Or after his stunning performance against Roma on Tuesday. The Egyptian has been a revelation since joining the Reds last summer, banging in 43 goals over the course of a glorious season.</p><p>Those are the figures only typically associated with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and they have enjoyed a duopoly on the Ballon d’Or for the last decade. But punters feel like it might be time for someone to gatecrash the party, and that man could well be the irrepressible Salah.</p><p>He has Liverpool on the brink of the Champions League final after scoring twice and providing two glorious assists to inspire his team to a 5-2 first-leg victory over his former club, Roma. How they must regret selling him to the Merseysiders for £38 million in the summer. Now he is worth at least £200 million and Europe’s biggest clubs are circling – and deservedly so. His first strike against Roma was wonderful, crashing in off the bar from the edge of the 18-yard box. His second was even better, a sumptuous dink lifted over Alisson Becker as he bore down on goal following a one-two with Roberto Firmino. It was the perfect example of his devastating pace, phenomenal awareness and remarkable composure under pressure.</p><p>In the second half he simply went from strength to strength, dancing past Roma players with gleeful abandon. He put the ball on a plate for Sadio Mane to slot in the third and teed up Firmino for another open goal to make it 4-0. His all-around play was superb, and it was capped by decisive contributions in the penalty area. He is playing with terrific confidence, but he also displayed plenty of humility, and he is likely to be a popular choice when it comes to rewarding individual brilliance.</p><p>Salah pipped Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne to win the PFA Player of the Year award earlier this week, as voted for by his peers. The Belgian midfielder was the clear favourite at the start of 2018, but Salah has since been unplayable. The Ballon d’Or is awarded for a calendar year, and that should stand him in good stead. If he can lead his team to the Champions League final, he will be in with a great chance of winning the award.</p><p>Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Robin van Persie have produced the greatest individual Premiership seasons in recent memory, and during this campaign Salah has eclipsed the lot of them. He has already scored more goals in a season than Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Didier Drogba or Robbie Fowler ever did. He has conquered the Premiership, and he could go on to conquer the world.</p><p>Liverpool are heavy favourites to reach the Champions League final, and Real Madrid are the favourites to meet them there. That would pit Salah against Ronaldo, and those are the two standout players in Europe right now. Messi has had another great season, but his chances faltered when Barcelona crashed out in the Champions League quarter-finals against Roma.</p><p>If Ronaldo inspires Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League title, it will be hard to see anyone stopping him taking home a record sixth Ballon d’Or, moving clear of Messi in the all-time stakes. But if Salah leads Liverpool to the trophy, he could be the man to finally break the iron grip the Ronaldo-Messi axis had had on this trophy.</p><p>Sky Bet now makes him the 6/4 favourite, while Ronaldo is out at 7/4. Bet Victor has him as the clear favourite. But Unibet, 888 Sport and Betfred still make Ronaldo the favourite and have 2/1 on Salah, which will tempt many punters. Unless Messi leads Argentina to winning the World Cup – and that seems doubtful – it is between Salah and Ronaldo, and the Egyptian has phenomenal momentum right now.</p>
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