Football's elite will walk the red carpet in Paris on Monday evening when France Football will announce the winner of the 2019 Ballon d'Or award.
Lionel Messi is the major favourite to make history by becoming the first player to clinch a sixth such accolade, moving clear of fellow five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo in the all-time rankings.
Liverpool won the UEFA Champions League title in June thanks in large part to the contributions of Virgil van Dijk, who is still in the running to become the first defender to lift the Ballon d'Or since 2006.
ESPN FC posted a shortlist of the 30 nominees who were in the vote for this year's prize:
BeIN Sports broadcasted the awards ceremony in the United States last year and are expected to do so again in 2019. European viewers should monitor France Football and L'Equipe, who live-streamed the event in 2018.
Ceremony Date: Monday, December 2
Venue: Theatre du Chatelet, Paris
It's been four years since he last lifted the award, but Messi once again looks like the man to beat in the Ballon d'Or race having returned to otherworldly figures in attack for Barcelona.
There are few players in history one could argue have had such a major impact on one club in football's history, but Messi's 40 goals in 2019 alone could be good enough reason to regain the award:
Those contributions helped Barca win La Liga last campaign, which could have ended in a treble were it not for errors made against Liverpool and Valencia in the UEFA Champions League and Copa del Rey, respectively.
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski has produced similar scoring numbers and also won the Bundesliga crown in Germany, but the Pole doesn't have nearly the same impact creating goals for his team.
Messi also has the advantage of having already been named FIFA's The Best Men's Player for 2019:
Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong—who is also on the 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist—has the rare experience of having played alongside Messi and second-favourite Van Dijk. The former Ajax star said club team-mate Messi deserves the prize, however, a player whom he described as "by far the best" in the world, via Hayters TV:
As well as winning their first European crown in 14 years, Liverpool also finished narrow runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League last season. Not only that, but Van Dijk's Netherlands also came second to Portugal in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.
Reds coach Jurgen Klopp has great affection for his £75 million marvel and said he deserves the award as 2019's finest despite the fact he thinks Messi is still the best of his generation, via Goal:
Liverpool have no fewer than seven players nominated for the Ballon d'Or, more players than any other team in contention.
Another of those in with a slim shot at the trophy is winger Sadio Mane, who has seen his star soar on the back of some incredible form at Anfield in the past year or so, per Squawka:
Liverpool may hold the advantage in numbers, but with Cristiano Ronaldo failing to sizzle in a lacklustre year at Juventus, the path looks clear for Messi to sweep up Ballon d'Or No. 6.