Upon completing his move to Juventus, many wondered whether Cristiano Ronaldo would be able to keep his incredibly high standards whilst adapting to a new environment, yet he did just that and is once again among the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or.
Luka Modric broke the long-running Lionel Messi/Ronaldo duopoly of the award, with his performances for Real Madrid and Croatia putting a different name on the trophy for the first time since 2008.
At 34 years old, Ronaldo has continued to pursue perfection in Turin, although the club’s disastrous defeat to Ajax in the Champions League left him visibly frustrated.
He added another league championship to his collection, whilst also lifting the Supercoppa Italiana, yet it was to be another summer of international success for the former Real Madrid forward.
After winning Euro 2016 with Portugal, Fernando Santos’ charges lifted the inaugural UEFA Nations League trophy on home soil after recording victories over Switzerland and the Netherlands.
It was the semi-final victory over the Swiss which was Ronaldo’s starring moment, he scored a hat-trick and became the first player to score in all of the top-tier international tournaments – World Cup, European Championship, Confederations Cup and the UEFA Nations League.
Unusually, Ronaldo didn’t finish as the Capocannoniere in his debut season in Italy, with his haul of 21 Serie A goals being bettered by both Fabio Quagliarella and Duvan Zapata.
Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge and their ultimate success in the Champions League has catapulted a number of their players into Ballon d’Or contention, not least Virgil van Dijk, thought by many to be the favourite.
Sadio Mane and Lionel Messi are expected to be in the running too, with the Argentine performing exceptionally for Barcelona in 2018/19, even if the team fell disastrously in the Champions League once more.
Despite the speculation, the Portuguese captain has attempted to kill suggestions that he is only motivated by individual awards.
“I don’t live with an obsession about awards,” Ronaldo explained.
“My numbers don’t lie, this year I’ve won three titles and I’ve been good in the Nations League.
“What else can I do?”