Mohamed Salah has undeniably been a key figure for Liverpool, but his quest for the Ballon d’Or, football’s ultimate individual prize, has been elusive. Despite his exceptional performances, Salah has faced stiff competition from the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during their peak years.
Salah’s Ballon d’Or journey has seen him finish seventh in 2021 and fifth in 2022, but he has never clinched the award. This year, he is once again among the four elite players shortlisted. His consistency has been remarkable, as he would have likely featured prominently in the 2020 edition had it not been canceled due to the pandemic.
However, it’s puzzling that Salah has rarely cracked the top five in the Ballon d’Or rankings, considering his prolonged excellence in the sport. Even within Liverpool, he has sometimes finished below a teammate in the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
While there are no other Liverpool representatives competing for the Ballon d’Or this year, the favorites for the top two spots are Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland. Beyond that, Manchester City and Argentina are expected to have a strong presence.
But is Salah’s quest for the Ballon d’Or over? At 36, Messi is nearing the end of his career, and if Salah can achieve success on the international stage alongside a strong club season, he might still have a chance.
However, a transfer to Saudi Arabia could potentially end his Ballon d’Or aspirations. The award is now based on a season rather than a calendar year, and it’s unlikely that stellar performances in Saudi Arabia would earn him the recognition he desires.
Looking ahead to the 2024/25 season, if Salah wants another shot at the Ballon d’Or, Liverpool could argue that staying in Europe is crucial. Assuming Liverpool returns to the Champions League, this could be a convincing reason for Salah to remain at the club.
While the offer from Saudi Arabia may be tempting, Salah’s quest for the Ballon d’Or is a significant goal for him, and Liverpool understands its importance. Whether he stays in Europe or explores other opportunities, Salah’s desire for individual recognition remains a driving force in his career.