Ballon d'Or 2021


(Getty Images)

By. Patrick Smietanka


After cancelling the notorious Ballon D’or award for the 2020 season, FIFA and France Football are returning to have the ceremony for this 2021 campaign. It has been a long season of excitement, sadness, and a total rollercoaster of emotions throughout all of football. Through the domestic leagues, UEFA Champions League, Euro 2020, as well as Copa America, the stars shined and some failed. This is a complete guide for the 2021 Ballon D’or, football’s most respected and best individual trophy a player can grasp.


Team Successes

Behind every player, there's a team, and before diving deep into a players profile, these are a few quick reminders of which teams were successful during their 2020-21 campaigns in (the most notable of) all domestic leagues and international competitions:


Domestic League Winners:

Serie A: Inter Milan

Ligue 1: LOSC Lille

Premier League: Manchester City

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich

La Liga: Atletico Madrid


Domestic Cup Winners

DFB Pokal: Borussia Dortmund

English FA Cup: Leicester City

Copa Del Rey: FC Barcelona

Coppa Italia: Juventus

Coupe De France: Paris Saint Germain


European Competition Winners

UEFA Champions League: Chelsea FC

Europa League: Villarreal CF


International Competition

UEFA Euro 2020: Italy

2021 Copa America: Argentina


Players

That brings us to the Ballon D’or 30 man shortlist released by France Football:


Riyad Mahrez (Man City)

N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)

Mason Mount (Chelsea)

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan, PSG)

Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Nicolo Barella (Inter)

Lionel Messi (Barcelona, PSG)

Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)

Pedri (Barcelona)

Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)

Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Neymar (PSG)

Ruben Dias (Man City)

Lautaro Martinez (Inter)

Simon Kjaer (AC Milan)

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Jorginho (Chelsea)

Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Romelu Lukaku (Inter, Chelsea)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus, Man Utd)

Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)

Phil Foden (Man City)

Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)


The shortlist contains loads of names that should honourably be there but realistically it can only come down to a few. Based on individual performances and predictions taken from media sources and analytical stats here are the most probable names to achieve the reward:


Robert Lewandowski


(Getty Images)


Arguably the most snubbed moment in football, Robert Lewandowski should have taken home the 2020 Ballon D’or last year, no question. This past year, however, he was still in great form and managed to continue his run of successes by winning a couple more trophies with Bayern over the campaign. Lewandowski finished the 2020/2021 Bundesliga season with a (Gerd Muller) record-breaking 41 goals in the league and 48 goals with 9 assists for the club in all competitions. Being a pivotal attacker for his club, Lewandowski won the Bundesliga with Bayern, the FIFA Club World Cup, the German Super Cup, as well as the UEFA Supercup after their stunning 2019-20 season. In the UEFA Champions League, Bayern managed to get to the semi-finals but was knocked out by PSG. Internationally, Lewandowski scored 9 goals for Poland with 3 assists; and 3 of those goals were in the Euros where Poland did not make it out of the group stage. In the 2021-22 season, Lewandowski already has 17 goals and 1 assist in all competitions as of Oct 23rd, 2021.


Lionel Messi


(Getty Images)


A usual favourite for the Ballon D’or every year, and in a year where his club had such a decline in form, Lionel Messi is another potential candidate for this year's award. Playing for his longtime club FC Barcelona in the 2020-21 season, Lionel Messi netted 38 times and assisted 14 in all club competitions. Barcelona did not make it out of the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League but did win the Copa Del Rey as their only achievement of last season. Messi however did take home the top scorer award in La Liga with 30 goals and got joint top scorer in the Copa America with 4 goals and 5 assists, and overall had 10 goals with Argentina in all competitions. Messi did also have a surprising move to PSG after the season had ended, now the Argentine will play in Ligue 1. So far in the 2021-22 season, Messi has 3 goals in 6 games in all club competitions. 2020-21 was finally the year Messi won a huge international trophy and it could be what pushes him from being a 6-time Ballon D’or winner to a 7-time winner as he was a standout star for both Barcelona and Argentina.


Jorginho


(Getty Images)


A surprising inclusion for this star-studded top 3, Italy and Chelsea midfielder, Jorginho, has had quite a season and a very big trophy cabinet to go along with it. The defensive midfielder is a usual starter for Chelsea alongside big names, N'Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic and was a key player for many attacks and defensive acumen last season. On paper, in 43 games, Jorginho scored 8 goals and 2 assists for all club competitions, and for the Azzurri, Jorginho started in every game in the Euros and in all international competitions scored once and assisted twice. For his trophy cabinet, Jorginho took home both the UEFA Champions League as well as the 2020 Euros. He also was awarded UEFA Best Player in Europe after his contributions for Chelsea as well as the best midfielder in the Euros this summer. During Euro 2020, Jorginho made the most ball recoveries (46), won the most fouls (18), and set a record for the most interceptions made at a single European Championship. In the Champions League, Jorginho ranked first with tackles and interceptions (52), first in successful presses (72), and 2nd in distance covered (126.3 km) and ball recoveries (76). An unsung option that may fly under the radar, but with defensive statistics like that, in 2 of the hardest competitions in Europe, it can only benefit the Italian’s chances for the Ballon d'Or.


Just 3 of the 30 potential candidates, but we aren’t France Football, after all, any names could be chosen as the list gets shorter and shorter. The award ceremony will be on Monday, November 29th, 2021, and catch it live to see the most prestigious award in football be crowned to one of the best 30 players from the 2020/21 season.