Mohamed Salah has certainly established himself as a frontrunner for the 2021 Ballon d’Or with his sublime performances during this calendar year.
The odds on the Liverpool star winning the prestigious award have been slashed following his stunning displays so far this term, most notably his hat-trick against rivals Manchester United last weekend.
That performance was just the tip of the iceberg for the ‘Egyptian King’ who has scored 17 and created six more in just 13 appearances this term.
Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on his star man numerous times recently, stating that he believes the 29-year-old has to be the world’s best.
He said: “Come on, who is better than him?
“We don’t have to talk about what Messi and Ronaldo have done for world football and their dominance but, right now, he is the best.
“His performance was massive. The pass for the first goal was great and the second goal was special. He is top, we all see it.”
Salah will face some fierce rivalry for the Ballon d’Or title as he goes up against the likes of Karim Benzema, Lionel Messi, Jorginho and current favourite, Robert Lewandowski.
The forward’s numbers certainly put him at the heart of the discussion.
In the 2020/21 season, Salah made 51 appearances for Liverpool, scoring an impressive 31 goals and providing six assists.
So how does that tally compare to previous winners of the Ballon d’Or? We take a look.
2019: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
50 appearances, 51 goals, 22 assists
With no award ceremony in 2020, it was the Argentine maestro who won the prize two years ago thanks to a frankly ridiculous goal tally that made him unplayable.
It was a great season for Barcelona who won La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup while coming runners up in the Copa Del Rey and reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
With goals and assists aplenty, Messi was rewarded for being an all-round offensive threat.
2018: Luka Modric, Real Madrid
43 appearances, 2 goals, 6 assists
The central midfielder oozed class in the middle of the park as he led Croatia to the World Cup final in 2018 and while he only contributed two goals and six assists, there was no one that could dispute just how well-deserved the prize was.
It was also a pretty memorable season at club level.
In 2017/18 Real Madrid finished 3rd in La Liga, but won the Champions League, the European Super Cup, the Spanish Super Cup and the Club World Cup – not a bad haul.
2017: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
46 appearances, 42 goals, 12 assists
CR7 enjoyed a great campaign with Real in which he scored 42 times in 46 appearances for Los Galacticos, ensuring that he pipped arch-rival Messi to the prize.
As well as some stunning individual displays, it was a great season at club level with the 2016/17 season bringing a La Liga title as well as winning the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup.
Given the all-round success of the campaign, Ronaldo was a no-brainer for the prize.
2016: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
48 appearances, 51 goals, 15 assists
The battle with Messi was at its optimum level by this point, something that was made clear by Ronaldo’s average of more than a goal a game.
Real won the Champions League and came second in La Liga in 2015/16, but with Portugal winning Euro 2016, it was a huge statement of just how dominant Ronaldo was.
It was at this time when Ronaldo was arguably at his most influential.
2015: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
57 appearances, 58 goals, 31 assists
A ridiculous amount of goals scored by the Argentina international as he pipped Ronaldo to the prize despite his own tally of 61 goals for rivals Real Madrid.
Barcelona won La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey, while also leading Argentina to the final of the Copa America.
It was that near success on the international stage that, once again, raised the bar in the search for the Ballon d’Or winner.
2014: Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
47 appearances, 51 goals, 17 assists
It was a World Cup year and while Messi helped Argentina all the way to the final, it was Ronaldo’s 51 goals for Real that secured the prize.
Despite finishing third in La Liga in 2013/14, Ronaldo won the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey with the Portuguese star inspiring the side to glory.
With Barcelona being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it just goes to show how important Europe’s elite competition is.
2013: Cristiano Ronaldo
53 appearances, 53 goals, 17 assists
With Messi winning four Ballon d’Ors in a row before 2013 it was always going to take something special to beat the Barcelona star – 70 goal contributions in a season should do it.
Real came second in La Liga but reached the semi-finals of the Champions League with Ronaldo proving truly inspirational.
Given that he hadn’t won the award since 2008 there was a feeling that this one was very much overdue.
2012: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
58 appearances, 70 goals, 30 assists
A simply sublime year in which the Barcelona legend racked up 100 goal involvements over the campaign, meaning that it was little surprise to see him take the top prize.
Finishing second in La Liga and reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League, Barcelona won everything else that they entered with Messi just unstoppable over this campaign.
With his second consecutive European Golden Shoe award, the Argentine was simply in a world of his own.
2011: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
55 appearances, 53 goals, 25 assists
With competition from CR7, Messi upped his productivity from the previous year in an era where the two rivals were driving each other to new heights.
Barcelona were the top side in world football having won La Liga and the Champions League with Messi being the main man.
Goals are great, but with 25 assists to his name there’s no argument that the Argentina star had the perfect blend of individual and collective brilliance.
2010: Lionel Messi, Barcelona
53 appearances, 45 goals, 12 assists
La Liga champions, Champions League semi-finalists and winners of the Spanish Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup, Messi was the main man in world football.
An impressive 57 goal involvements was enough to scoop the Ballon d’Or as Ronaldo adapted to life in Spain.
However hindsight would tell us that standard would rise significantly over the coming years in pursuit of the biggest individual prize in football.