Ballon d’Or: Virgil van Dijk, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sadio Mane on shortlist for award

Virgil van Dijk
Van Dijk helped Liverpool win the Champions League last season

Virgil van Dijk is one of seven Liverpool players named on the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum and Alisson have also been chosen from the Reds.

Five Manchester City players – Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero – are on the list.

Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min are also included.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have won the award 10 times between them, again feature among the contenders.

Reds dominate players from one club

Champions League winners Liverpool have the most players on the list from one club with Premier League champions Manchester City the next highest number with five.

Barcelona have four players; as well as Messi, Frenkie de Jong, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Antoine Griezmann feature in the list.

Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also included, as is Real Madrid’s former Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard.

When do we find out who has won?

The Ballon d’Or winner will be named in Paris on 2 December.

Luka Modric won in 2018 to end the seven-year dominance of the award by Messi and Ronaldo.

Van Dijk is among the favourites to win this year’s award after being named Uefa Player of the Year in August.

What are the game’s three main player awards?

A version of the Ballon d’Or has been awarded by France Football magazine since 1956, but was merged with Fifa’s World Footballer of the Year award from 2010 to 2015.

However, Fifa ended its association with the Ballon d’Or the following year to set up its own – the Best Fifa Player award.

In September, Messi won that award in the fourth edition of the Best Fifa Football Awards.

Meanwhile, Uefa’s Player of the Year award has been going since 1998 and was previously called Uefa Club Footballer of the Year (1998-2010) and Uefa Best Player in Europe (2011-16).

Best keeper award

Four Premier League-based keepers are in the running for the Yashin Award – named after Russia legend Lev Yashin – the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d’Or itself.

They are Liverpool’s Alisson, Ederson of Manchester City, Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga and Tottenham’s Lloris.

Also nominated are Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, Inter Milan’s Samir Handanovic, Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, Ajax’s Andre Onana, Juventus’ Wojciech Szczesny and Ter Stegen of Barcelona.

Who are the young player candidates?

The Kopa Trophy is presented to the best performing player under the age of 21 and is selected by former Ballon d’Or winners. Like the main Ballon d’Or prize, it is also organised by France Football.

It is open to those who play outside Europe and was first awarded in 2018, with Paris St-Germain and France World Cup-winning forward Kylian Mbappe the clear winner.

This year’s nominees include Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho, 19, Everton and Italy forward Moise Kean, 19, and Arsenal’s French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, 20.

Others in the running are Juventus’ Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt, 20, Real Madrid’s Brazil forward Vinicius Junior, 19, Valladolid and Ukraine keeper Andriy Lunin, 20, Bayer Leverkusen and Germany midfielder Kai Havertz, 20, Atletico Madrid and Portugal forward Joao Felix, 19, Villarreal and Nigeria winger Samuel Chukwueze, 20, and Valencia and South Korea forward Lee Kang-in, 18.

List of nominees for the main award:

Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

Alisson (Liverpool)

Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain)

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)

Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

Mohammed Salah (Liverpool)

Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

Marquinhos (Paris St-Germain)

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

LaBron James stands with a microphone in hand as he talks to media
LeBron James is known for speaking up about social issues like police brutality

Basketball superstar LeBron James has weighed in on a row between the NBA and China, saying a team manager who caused uproar with a tweet about Hong Kong “wasn’t educated” on the situation.

Presentational white space

Mr James’ remarks sparked outrage from activists in Hong Kong, some US politicians and people on social media, with many users reposting one of his tweets from 2018 that quoted the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

One Republican senator, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, accused the athlete of “parroting communist propaganda”.

In a clarifying tweet, Mr James said he was referring to the consequences of Mr Morey’s comment, rather than the substance.

Chinese officials and media responded with outrage to Mr Morey’s original tweet, which referred to months of pro-democracy protests that have consumed Hong Kong, a territory that is part of China but enjoys unique freedoms.

The NBA – which is hugely popular in China – has struggled to respond to the situation, with some Chinese partners suspending relations with the league by cancelling broadcasts and sponsorships.

Mr James has spoken out in the past on issues concerning race and police brutality and the NBA has been praised for accepting protest among its players.

Mr James has significant financial interests in China, through his lifetime endorsement deal with Nike and via millions of fans.

US Open 2019: Johanna Konta sees positives despite quarter-final defeat

Johanna Konta
Konta has enjoyed a good 2019, reaching two WTA finals as well as three successive Grand Slam quarter-finals
US Open 2019
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 26 Aug – 8 Sep
Coverage: Live text and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app. Click here for Live Guide.

British number one Johanna Konta says she has “a lot to smile about” after her latest Grand Slam bid ended in a US Open quarter-final defeat.

“It’s nice to feel that I’ve still got room to just get better in the sport,” Konta, 28, said.

Reflecting on her Grand Slam results, she added: “It is the best I have done so far in my career so there is a lot to be proud of there.

“It is just part of the sport – only one person ends up not losing, everyone else does lose at some point.”

Konta almost dropped out of the world’s top 50 towards the end of last year and again at the end of April after a disappointing start to the season where she failed to progress past the third round of a tournament.

But a fine clay-court season culminated in a shock run to the French Open last four – at odds with her previous form on the surface – and she backed that up with further runs deep runs at Wimbledon and the US Open.

However, she was unable to replicate her gutsy last-16 win over Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova against Ukrainian world number five Svitolina, who outclassed her on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday.

“Obviously, I wanted to go one step further and be in the semi-finals and the final, and lifting the trophy,” Konta said.

“I think I definitely need to look at the good things I did, the great matches I played and the tough opponents I beat and take good things from the really tough opponent who I lost to.

“The season is not finished, I’m pleased with how I feel I’m getting better throughout the season.

“I still feel like I’m evolving and developing and just improving.”

Her performance at Flushing Meadows is likely to lift her to 11th place in the world rankings when they are published next Monday and if she can continue her good form over the next few weeks she could still stake a claim for a debut place in the WTA Finals – the season-ending tournament for the year’s top eight players in Shenzhen, China.

“I’d love for that to be a part of my schedule,” Konta said. “But there are so many moving factors with that. So many things depend on how other people are doing.”

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October 2019