After an eventful World Cup so far, Sporting Life takes a look at the betting for the 2018 Ballon d'Or…
Lionel Messi had a fairly quiet tournament in Russia after Argentina's last 16 exit, while Cristiano Ronaldo hit four goals in four appearances as Portugal dropped out at the same stage.
Mohamed Salah's sterling first season at Liverpool makes him second favourite ahead of Lionel Messi, while Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne's odds could yet shorten depending on how England and Belgium respectively perform for the rest of the World Cup.
With odds fromÂ Sky Bet's Ballon d'Or 2018 market, we take a look at the candidates…
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is again the favourite to win the Ballon d'Or. The Portuguese forward won his third successive Champions League, netting 15 goals in the run to the final. Ronaldo also bagged four goals in Portugal's World Cup campaign, and is at 1/4 to win a record sixth Ballon d'Or.
The Argentine magician had another wondrous season in La Liga, scoring 34 goals en route to an emphatic title win. Messi led Barcelona to a league and Copa Del Ray double, and was highly influential in Argentina's qualification to the World Cup. Despite a goal in their final group game, Argentina's tournament was fairly disastrous, and cements Messi as an outside shot.
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah was perhaps the signing of the summer. A Â£35m transfer from Roma saw the Egyptian score a record 33 goals in a single Premier League season, and help lead the Anfield outfit to their first Champions League final since 2007. Salah had an anticlimactic World Cup, but another strong start to the season could see him in the running.
PSG striker Neymar is the most expensive player on the planet, after his near Â£200m move from Barcelona. The Brazilian secured a league and cup double, and has led his nation into the quarter finals of this summer's World Cup where they crashed out to Belgium.
England captain Harry Kane's World Cup performances have done his chances of becoming the first Englishman to win the Ballon d'Or since Michael Owen in 2001 no harm. The Tottenham striker has scored six goals already, and looks set to win the Golden Boot should his form continue. The Spurs number nine also bagged thirty Premier League goals this seasons, and also had a strong showing in the Champions League. If Kane can lift the World Cup this summer, surely he will be in with a shout for the award.
Manchester City dynamo Kevin De Bruyne has had an incredible campaign the Premier League for Manchester City, scoring eight goals and adding 16 assists. The midfielder is performing really well in Russia, his sweet strike seeing off Brazil in the last eight, and a World Cup win could boost De Bruyne's chances of winning the Ballon d'Or.
And best of the rest…
The rest see the likes of Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann and Luka Modric competing for the award, with both still in the hunt for World Cup glory. Kylian Mbappe's strong performance against Argentina saw his odds cut, but, for all these players, their performances in the latter stages of the World Cup could be crucial if they are to push Ronaldo for the most prestigious individual honour in football.