The 30-member shortlist for this year’s Ballon D’Or for men includes a lot of the familiar names along with five UEFA Champions League winners. Lionel Messi and Jorginho are the leading contenders for the award while N’Golo Kante and Robert Lewandowski are also in with strong chances.
— Ballon d'Or #ballondor (@francefootball) October 8, 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo did not have the best of years, either with Juventus or Portugal while Kevin De Bruyne won the Premier League and the PFA Player of the Year. The ceremony is set to take place on November 29 in Paris, along with the awarding of the Kopa Trophy and Yashin Trophy.
CAN MESSI BE STOPPED?
The now-PSG attacker had 47 goal contributions across all competitions last season, but was unable to inspire Barcelona to the La Liga crown. They did manage to lift the Copa del Rey but his greatest moment under the sun came at this year’s Copa America. Argentina made it all the way to the final and in a surprise turn of events, actually won and that too against defending champions Brazil. Messi’s first major international trophy should be able to help him win a record seventh Ballon D’Or this time.
Messi at Copa América 2021:
🔹Player with most Goals
🔸player with most Assists
🔹Player of the tournament
🔸Winner of the tournament
First player EVER at a single international tournament to achieve this feat 🤩 pic.twitter.com/ljzSR5maAf
— Barça Worldwide (@BarcaWorldwide) July 11, 2021
Messi’s closest contender, many feel, is not Lewandowski or Ronaldo. It is Chelsea and Italy’s Jorginho who has been earning some pretty rave reviews over his gameplay this season. He won both of Europe’s top competitions for club and country while also being named the UEFA Player of the Year. Though he does not have the amazing goal scoring ability or beautiful skills on the ball, Jorginho’s rich trophy haul makes him a leading candidate.
• Champions League winner
• Super Cup winner
• EURO’s winner
• Ballon d’Or nominee
What an incredible year for Jorginho! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/E8xXF2Cki4
— LDN (@LDNFootbalI) October 8, 2021
Could he really become the first Chelsea player to win the prestigious award? It will be one hell of an achievement and cement the Italian as one of the best ball players of all time.
The man most widely tipped to win it last year is in the conversation once again but the environment is not the same. Lewandowski had a monstrous 2020, winning the sextuple and the FIFA Best Men’s Player. Many felt it was finally time for the Pole to win his first but with the cancellation of the ceremony, his chance looks to have gone for good.
Robert Lewandowski’s trophy haul in 2020. Something’s missing. pic.twitter.com/ukxylCJkvS
— VERSUS (@vsrsus) October 29, 2020
Nevertheless, Lewandowksi put up the best goal scoring season of his career this term, notching up 41 strikes in the Bundesliga to break the single season record. Bayern Munich won the league title but were bested in the DFB Pokal and Champions League in the early knockout stages.
At Euro 2020, Lewandowski was once again his imperious self which was in the end not enough for yet another disappointing exit.
As always, there have been a few names that have left fans scratching their heads quite a bit. AC Milan defender Simon Kjaer is in along with Raheem Sterling who had one of his more disappointing seasons. Riyad Mahrez had an excellent time in the latter stages of the Champions League but should it be enough to justify his selection?
It is remarkable to see a Villarreal player nominated for the Ballon D’or, but Gerard Moreno absolutely deserves it! Endavant Gerard! https://t.co/OTylYhflfL
— The UEL Champs Fan Blog: Endavant Villarreal🏆 (@VillarrealUSA) October 8, 2021
It is clear that some of the players have been chosen for their leadership skills (Cesar Azpilicueta/Giorgio Chiellini) while emphasis has also been made on performances at Euro 2020 (Pedri/ Gianluigi Donnarumma). Gerard Moreno netted 30 times across all competitions and in the UEFA Europa League final which Villarreal won, making him a much deserved candidate.
BEST OF THE REST
N’Golo Kante is another new name amongst the mix, given his superlative performances in shutting down oppositions’ attacks. He was named player of the match in both legs of the semi-final against Real Madrid as well as in the final. However, with France, Kante did not have the greatest time as the world champions were knocked out in the round-of-16 stage by underdogs Switzerland.
Hand over the Ballon d'Or. It belongs to N'Golo Kante.
Man of the Match:
Round of 16 second leg: Kante
Semi Final first leg: Kante
Semi Final second leg: Kante
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) May 30, 2021
The Premier League is heavily represented through 13 players, counting those already mentioned above. Harry Kane has become a fixture of this list and won both the Golden Boot and Playmaker of the Season awards. Mason Mount was another star for Chelsea, providing the assist for the only goal of the Champions League as well as enjoying another solid campaign.
Harry Kane was presented with the Golden Boot and Playmaker awards after topping the individual tables with 23 goals and 14 assists 👏 pic.twitter.com/25DfbAPZPR
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 23, 2021
Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland also made the cut but the chances of them winning the Ballon D’Or need more time. Mohamed Salah has started this season like a house on fire and Bruno Fernandes’ mercurial play also sees him in the top 30.
• Euro top scorer.
• Serie A top scorer.
• Serie A forward of the year.
• Copa Italia winner.
• SuperCopa Italiana winner.
17th Ballon d’Or nomination. pic.twitter.com/Q8Q2oB6y5y
— TCR. (@TeamCRonaldo) October 8, 2021
Finally, Ronaldo has been a tremendous time with his club and international career. The all-time record goal scorer in men’s international football was the top-scorer in Serie A too. However, his feats were not enough to keep Juventus’s league dominance going though they lifted the Coppa Italia. He kept his hot streak going, ending up as Euro 2020 Golden Boot winner but Portugal suffered a disappointing defence of their crown with a limp exit to Belgium in the round-of-16.
BALLON D’OR POWER RANKINGS:
1. LIONEL MESSI
3. ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI
4. N’GOLO KANTE
5. HARRY KANE
6. CRISTIANO RONALDO
7. MO SALAH
8. KEVIN DE BRUYNE
9. LAUTARO MARTINEZ
10. KYLIAN MBAPPE
11. ERLING HAALAND
12. GERARD MORENO
13. ROMELU LUKAKU
14. BRUNO FERNANDES
15. LUIS SUAREZ
16. MASON MOUNT
17. PHIL FODEN
18. LUKA MODRIC
19. RAHEEM STERLING
21. NICOLO BARELLA
22. GIORGIO CHIELLINI
24. RUBEN DIAS
25. GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA
26. KARIM BENZEMA
27. RIYAD MAHREZ
28. LEONARDO BONUCCI
29. CESAR AZPILICUETA
30. SIMON KJAER