With the announcement of the winner of the 2021 Ballon d’Or set to be made on November 29th, we look at the front runners for this year’s edition of the award after the 30-man shortlist for the award was released by France Football.
Robert Lewandowski, Lionel Messi and Jorginho are listed as the three top favourites to emerge with the revered award after a remarkable 2021 for each of them.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich & Poland)
After last year’s edition of the award was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a general feeling of unfairness towards the decision because Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski had distinguished himself as the best player in the world in the year 2020, spearheading Bayern Munich’s successful treble charge.
This year, however, the Polish striker took it upon himself to prove that his achievements last season were not a fluke. He scored 48 goals for Bayern Munich in only 40 appearances in the 2020/21 season as he broke Gerd Muller’s longstanding goals record in the Bundesliga. His goals helped Bayern Munich to pick up a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title.
The Poland captain also scored three goals in three appearances as his side crashed out of Euro 2020 in the group stage.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona/PSG & Argentina)
Completing a shock move to PSG does not diminish the otherworldly achievements of Argentina captain Lionel Messi in the 2020/21 season. 2021 has proven to be one of the most significant years of the superstar’s career in more ways than one and he can lay claim to being a huge favourite for the 2021 Ballon d’Or.
Despite a very slow start to the season, current holder and six-time winner Messi ended up with 38 goals and 14 assists in only 47 appearances for a Barcelona side that struggled all through, only picking up the Copa del Rey title at the end of the season.
Messi’s greatest success in 2021 came in the blue and white shirt of his country as he led them to a first trophy since 1993. The pint-sized attacker led the goals, assists, chances created and many other attacking metrics at the Copa America in Brazil as his side claimed glory with the defeat of the host nation in the final.
Issues bordering on financial mismanagement forced him to move on from Barcelona and join forces with long time friends Neymar and Angel Di Maria in the French capital ahead of the 2021/22 season.
Jorginho (Chelsea & Italy)
Brazil-born midfielder Jorginho distinguished himself as one of the favourites for the 2021 Ballon d’Or with stellar performances for both club and country that saw him named the UEFA Player of the Year.
The midfielder was seemingly on his way out of Chelsea before the sacking of Frank Lampard, but the appointment of Thomas Tuchel changed his fortunes at the club as the German tactician made him a mainstay in his side.
Jorginho’s increased involvement saw him play starring roles for Chelsea and Italy as they won the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Euro 2020, respectively. The midfielder has been tipped by many to win the Ballon d’Or.
Manchester United forward and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo has also been tipped to be in the conversation alongside Chelsea’s UEFA Midfielder of the Year N’Golo Kante.