Soccer

Ballon d’Or 2021: Who Are The Favorites?

Ballon d'Or
Chistophe Ena/Associated Press

Last week, France Football released the names of the top 30 players nominated to win the men’s 2021 Ballon d’Or.

As always, there were a few surprises who made the list (cough, Mason Mount), a few snubs (cough Federico Chiesa), and a few names that are always there year after year no matter what happens. (I don’t need to go into detail for those).

But one thing is for certain though: this year’s list is competitive. Especially after last year’s award was canceled due to the pandemic, players have had plenty of time to step up and impress. Most of the biggest names in football were nominated, making the contest race for this year very tight.

Who really deserves to win the prestigious award, which will be announced during the ceremony on November 29th, is quite honestly subjective. But even with that in mind, let’s go ahead and pick some of the nominees from the shortlist that are the favorites, or most deserved, to win the coveted 2021 Ballon d’Or.

Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich

Starting with one of the most obvious choices first. Let’s all be real for a moment here – this man was ROBBED.

After having one of the best seasons of his career – winning the treble with Bayern Munich, named The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2020, and scoring 55 goals in 47 games in the 2019/2020 season – Lewandowski was rumored to be the front runner for the 2020 Ballon d’Or. But then going against his run of luck, the Ballon d’Or gets CANCELLED, which heralded quite a bit of criticism and controversy.

Since then, the Polish international has scored 50 goals and recorded 8 assists for 2021, not to mention has added 3 more trophies to his name. So what does this man still have left to prove?

Answer: NOTHING.

Jorginho – Chelsea

Another moment to be real here, trophies matter. Results will always speak for themselves in the world of football and in these days particularly, trophies very much count as results.

From the very moment, Italy won Euro 2020, it was widely speculated that Jorginho would be placed in the top to win Ballon d’Or. Those speculations cannot be blamed when he’s also won the 2020/21 Champions League final with Chelsea, as well as the UEFA Super Cup.

While his individual caliber may not be as high as some of the other nominees on the shortlist, the odds are very much in his favor to finish at the top for this year’s award.

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

A fellow Blue with Jorginho, Kante has two of the same trophies and medals to add to his own cabinet. Not to mention he was awarded Champions League Midfielder of the Season. Oh, and Man of the Match in the Champions League Final. And for anyone who watched that final, it was clear Kante was the man in charge of that pitch.

Plus, with that signature smile of his, how could he NOT be listed as a favorite?!

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United

Playing for two different clubs in 2021, Ronaldo became the top goalscorer in Serie A with 29 goals. Also with Juventus, he won the Supercoppa Italiana as well as the Coppa Italia.

He was awarded the Euro 2020 Golden Boot and has already come to the rescue for Manchester United in a way that only Cristiano Ronaldo knows how.

Love him or hate him, football fans have to admit CR7 is a machine. And if there is any current player who is motivated by goals, awards, and glory – it’s him.

Lionel Messi – Paris Saint-Germain

CR7’s nemesis also found himself playing for two different clubs this year. Lionel Messi has won the Copa America and Copa del Rey and became the top scorer for Copa America and La Liga with Barcelona. He also was named Copa America Player of the Tournament.

While his start at PSG has been a bit slower than expected, he too rescued his club recently with a brilliant goal against a tenacious Manchester City side in the Champions League.

If Messi were to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, it would be his seventh. Does he even have room for a seventh? I’m sure he’ll find some…

Honorable Mentions

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) – Even if you don’t regularly watch La Liga, you probably should. Even if it’s just for this guy. He’s currently leading all of Europe so far in major leagues for both goals scored and assists.

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Arguably the most in-form men’s player in Europe right now. This guy just knows how to deliver. Period.

Phil Foden (Manchester City) – While it would be considered a bit premature to give the 21-year-old the Ballon d’Or this time around, maybe not so much in the future. The vibrant midfielder is basically the Little Magician That Could.

Neymar (PSG) – Coupe de France winner and also, it’s Neymar.

Kylian Mbappe (PSG) – Ligue 1 top goal scorer last year (27) and also, it’s Mbappe.

Who do you all think should be the favorites to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or? Or, which players should not have even made the top 30?

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