The nominees for the Ballon d’Or were named last night, and the list included six Liverpool players, plus Sadio Mané, who despite moving on (hold on a moment, need to go have a cry), is still being recognized for his achievements in a Liverpool shirt.
The full list is oddly capped at 29 players, but regardless, 6 out of 29 is impressive.
The Liverpool cohort includes new signings Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz, as well as long-serving stalwarts such as Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, and Virgil van Dijk.
It’s wild that there are at least several additions Liverpool players that probably deserve inclusion, especially Alisson Becker, which feels like a glaring omission.
Of course, the Ballon d’Or is never without controversy.
Last year saw favorite Robert Lewandowski somehow finish behind Lionel Messi, and Mo Salah finish a baffling seventh, notably behind yet another well over-the-hill striker. Said striker and objectively terribly human being, currently playing for Manchester United, whose ego couldn’t fit inside a freshly-emptied Old Trafford, was somehow nominated once again this year, presumably out of habit at this point.
Despite the issues with the nominating process and the award itself, it would be nice to see a Liverpool player take home the award. At the moment, only one Liverpool player has won the award, Michael Owen, following the treble season of 2000/01. This feels terribly unjust, by which I mean, “tremendous, by the way.”
The other Liverpool players to nearly win it are a rather impressive list of club legends. Kenny Dalglish was the first Red to be nominated, and finished second in 1983. Steven Gerrard finished third in 2005 after the historic Champions League triumph in Istanbul. Fernando Torres finished third in 2008. And most recently Virgil van Dijk finished second in 2019.