Mohamed Salah was always going to be amongst the 30 names released as France Football spent the day rolling out all the nominees for the 2018 edition of the Ballon d’Or. The bigger question, at least for Liverpool fans, was which other Reds might make the cut.
In the end, three others did, with fellow forwards Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané making the cut along with goalkeeper Alisson, honoured for his starring role last season for Roma and his work with the Brazilian national team at the World Cup over the summer.
There was no room on the list for Virgil van Dijk, though one imagines it will be different in 2019 if he continues to play the rest of the way this season as he’s started it, and spending the first half of last season injured at Southampton likely justifies his omission.
Both more and, in a way, less surprising was that James Milner was left off after setting a new record for Champions League assists last season, and one imagines lack of name recognition as a star and reputation as a solid but unspectacular pro will have hurt him.
And even if one were disinclined to consider Milner, it’s difficult to look at Karim Benzema’s inclusion amongst the thirty nominees and not raise one’s eyebrow given the Madrid man’s largely underwhelming 2017-18 campaign. Still, for the most part, it’s a good list.
A great list, even—as one would rather expect of any attempt to cobble together the top thirty players of the past year, even if one might quibble at the odd inclusion or omission.
The 30 nominees for the 2018 Ballon d’Or:
Sergio Agüero (ARG / Manchester City)
Alisson (BRA / Liverpool)
Gareth Bale (WAL / Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (FRA / Real Madrid)
Edinson Cavani (URU / PSG)
Thibaut Courtois (BEL / Chelsea)
Cristiano Ronaldo (POR / Juventus)
Kevin De Bruyne (BEL / Manchester City)
Roberto Firmino (BRA / Liverpool)
Diego Godin (URU / Atlético Madrid)
Antoine Griezmann (FRA / Atlético Madrid)
Eden Hazard (BEL / Chelsea)
Isco (ESP / Real Madrid)
Harry Kane (ENG / Tottenham)
N’Golo Kanté (FRA / Chelsea)
Hugo Lloris (FRA / Tottenham)
Mario Mandzukic (CRO / Juventus)
Sadio Mané (SEN / Liverpool)
Marcelo (BRA / Real Madrid)
Kylian Mbappé (FRA / PSG)
Lionel Messi (ARG / FC Barcelona)
Luka Modric (CRO / Real Madrid)
Neymar (BRA / PSG)
Jan Oblak (SLO / Atlético Madrid)
Paul Pogba (FRA / Manchester United)
Ivan Rakitic (CRO / FC Barcelona)
Mohamed Salah (EGY / Liverpool)
Sergio Ramos (ESP / Real Madrid)
Luis Suarez (URU / FC Barcelona)
Raphaël Varane (FRA / Real Madrid)