Liverpool 2.0 Contenders for the Ballon d’Or
Last night I watched the 2023 Ballon d’Or ceremony, which celebrated the chosen few that have excelled in this calendar year. The varying names and final placings of certain individuals will always cause debate; however, it is still seen as an important notification of brilliance and achievement over a period of time. The former Liverpool striker, Michael Owen, remains the only red to have ever won the illustrious award (whilst playing for LFC), winning in 2001, ahead of Raul and Oliver Khan. Sir Kenny Dalglish finished as runner up to Michel Platini in 1983, whereas Steven Gerrard’s highest ever taking was in 2005, when the Champions League winning skipper finished 5th on that year’s list. Years later, the current Liverpool captain, Virgil van Dijk, was unlucky to finish 2nd behind Lionel Messi in 2019, whilst Mohammed Salah has only ever finished as high as 5th place (amazingly) in both the 2019 and 2022 rankings. The 2023 award went deservedly to Lionel Messi, who for an 8th time was presented for his contributions to the game. The World Cup winning captain of Argentina, now solidifies his place as the greatest of his generation and perhaps the greatest of all time.
Who Are the LFC Contenders for Future Ballon d’Or Trophies…?
As Jürgen Klopp continues his regeneration into Liverpool 2.0, the entire fanbase is hopeful that past glories can be recreated under the illustrious stewardship of their current German manager. Though there are sure to be more pieces added to the reshaped squad of tomorrow, there are definitely players within the current group that could challenge for future Ballon d’Or awards. The era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is now at an end, which opens the door for the likes of Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe, Vinicius Junior, and Jude Bellingham, to compete for the 2024 trophy and beyond. Below I will be listing the Anfield names that I believe could gatecrash that world class group of players, as the reds ramp up their efforts to become a world class entirety once more.
Though it will never happen, recognition of the world’s undisputed greatest goalkeeper continues to be taken for granted by the footballing world. Yashin remains the only stopper to have been awarded a Ballon d’Or, for his performances in 1963. Liverpool’s Brazilian number one is the Premier League’s greatest ever keeper, and his abilities should never be overlooked.
Verdict – Highly unlikely, though absolutely deserving of a mention as the game’s best number one.
Virgil van Dijk
The man that should have been awarded a Ballon d’Or in 2019, who stood tall as the games most vital player that year. An ACL injury has since brought some roadblocks back to the top of his game; however, indications are that the giant Dutchman is close to being at the all-time level he once was.
Verdict – The world’s premier central defender will be back in consideration, though only if the reds win major silverware over the next few years. His importance and brilliance mean that only his elite levels will enable his team to attain major silverware, therefore, both team and individual recognition now align for the captain.
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 30, 2023
Trent Alexander Arnold
England’s most underappreciated player of his generation. The world knows the ability is supreme, however, last season’s collapse damaged his reputation due to the continual failings around him. In this new enterprise and advanced hybrid role, a new level of maturity and brilliance is almost inevitable, which cannot go unnoticed.
Verdict – I suspect that once the Liverpool vice-captain is fully immersed into his new role and all the pieces around him are set, he could become a player that becomes viable for Ballon d’Or consideration.
From this list, I suspect this is the one man that has more chance than any of attaining Ballon d’Or winning status. The talent and ferocious nature of his play is limitless and he could go on to become one of the world’s greatest midfielders. Simply phenomenal.
Verdict – If his insane trajectory of brilliance continues, he will be vying with Jude Bellingham and others for the award in years to come.
The dismissive talk that has always surrounded the all-time great is always mystifying. As a record-breaking scorer from wide areas, there are maybe a handful of players that can be compared to the Egyptian King. He remains perhaps the greatest player in the world today, yet his status will always be reliant on the success of his club.
Verdict – If the former Roma forward signs another extension and recommits the next three or four years to Anfield, then I believe his output and world class level of play will play in firmly into the realm of world’s greatest in waiting.
Very much the outside bet of the group, yet it is impossible not to appreciate the destructive and infectious skillset that the Uruguayan striker possesses. Darwin is perhaps the most popular man in red right now and if his manager can channel all the exciting talents into one ideal attacking force, he could become one of the world’s best centre forwards.
Verdict – Perhaps, but massive aligning of his huge talents would be needed. All the tools are there.
— Ballon d'Or (@ballondor) October 30, 2023