With almost two months to wait until we know the winner of the 2021 Ballon d’Or, France Football had released the 30 nominees for the award a few days back.
— #BallondOr (@francefootball) October 8, 2021
Last year, the award did not take place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The ceremony will take place on November 29, and with no clear favourite, we have one of the most open Ballon d’Or races in decades.
This year, the award is not all about just Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, rather, over the years, some strong contenders have raised the bar to run two of the best footballers in the world for their money.
— #BallondOr (@francefootball) October 8, 2021
Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema stands out as one of this year’s favourites, as the Frenchman put his team on his back and continued his fine form since Cristiano Ronaldo left the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
After dishing out an outstanding performance against Belgium and Spain in the semifinal and final of the UEFA Nations League respectively – the chances of Benzema winning the award become brighter.
“I’ve been dreaming of winning the Ballon d’Or since I was a kid, it’s a dream that all of us footballers have. It’s true that the most important thing is the team, but when you help your team win, when you play well and score lots of goals, the next thing to have in mind is the Ballon d’Or. So I’m going to do everything I can and work as hard as possible to hopefully, one day, win it and achieve this dream I’ve had since I was a kid,” said Benzema in an interview.
Karim Benzema’s unstoppable strike vs. Spain is the Nations League Goal of the Tournament ☄️
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 13, 2021
Benzema could be the first Frenchman to win the trophy since Zinedine Zidane did so back in 1998.
Then comes the man, who brought an end to the international trophy drought for Argentina by winning the Copa America on the Brazilian soil – Lionel Messi.
Despite Barcelona not being in the richest patch of their history right now, the club that Messi left in the summer, the Argentine still added the Copa del Rey and the Pichichi Trophy to his collection in 2021.
Lionel Messi is everywhere.
Lionel Messi can do anything.
𝙑𝙖𝙢𝙤𝙨, 𝙫𝙖𝙢𝙤𝙨 𝘼𝙧𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙖. pic.twitter.com/I1KQxvKs9D
— Goal (@goal) October 11, 2021
He then won the Copa America with Argentina over the summer.
There is no denying this man’s qualities, even at 34 years of age, so he is always in the running.
Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski is looked at by many as the worthy winner of the 2020 Ballon d’Or.
Sadly, the award was scrapped that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore nobody won, but the Poland international will no doubt want to get his hands on the trophy once and for all.
Robert Lewandowski might be making room for the Ballon d'Or in his trophy case 👀 pic.twitter.com/H9tws0LYeZ
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) October 12, 2021
With 48 goals in 40 games last season, including 41 in 29 league games, Lewandowski is one of the most in-form strikers in the world right now and stands out as one of the favourites.
Of course, can never be counted out of the running.
The Portuguese legend scored a scarcely believable 58th career hat-trick this week, and this year he has broken other records besides as he seeks his sixth crown.
That triple – and its timing – might just swing the vote Ronaldo’s way, as it did in 2013 when the then-Real Madrid forward got a hat-trick against Sweden to help him narrowly see off Messi and Franck Ribery in the voting.
“I always promised that I would want more and more,” Ronaldo said after his Portugal side’s World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg.
“It’s inside me, in my DNA.”
“We must never be satisfied, never slack off, and always try and reach the highest we can.”
O mesmo orgulho de sempre na hora de representar o meu país e de marcar com as nossas cores. Mais um teste, mais um ensaio, seguimos juntos na ambição, no sonho e no rumo inamovível que traçámos: marcar presença no histórico Mundial do Catar em 2022! 🇵🇹💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/2S1BjJRrSM
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 9, 2021
His next task is to walk away with the award on November 29, and it’s one that will find a home alongside seven La Liga Santander titles, five Champions Leagues, one European Championship, one Nations League, five Ballon d’Or awards, four Golden Boots and two FIFA The Best crowns.
“Cristiano deserves it,” said Sir Alex Ferguson recently.
“This year he’s broken record after record.”
Ronaldo has become the highest scorer ever in the Champions League, as well as the highest international scorer of all time.
Even those marks were surpassed in 2021 however, with the 36-year-old going past Pele and Josef Bican as the highest overall goalscorer in the history of football.
He’s not only competing with himself, but that doesn’t mean he is slowing down.
And Ronaldo is now only five goals away from passing 800 career goals.
Os recordes são sempre marcantes, mas aqueles que caem ao serviço da nossa Selecção assumem uma dimensão especial. 181 jogos com a camisola das quinas são 181 motivos de orgulho! E marcar contra 46 países diferentes é algo que nunca imaginei que fosse possível.Força Portugal 🇵🇹💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/egmX1U7PSo
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 10, 2021
Other records that have tumbled to the Portuguese this year have been the highest scorer at the European Championships – Ronaldo now has 14 – and the highest number of international appearances, with 182.
He is also the only man to ever be top scorer in the Premier League, La Liga Santander and Serie A.
Above all, Italy and Chelsea’s Jorginho remains one of the most favourites to win the award.
JORGINHO IN 2021👁👁.
🏅 Champions League🏆.
🏅 EURO 2020🏆.
🏅 Super Cup🏆.
🥈 FA Cup Runner-Up❌.
🥉 Nations League 3rd❌.
🏅UEFA Men's POTY.
🏅Euro 2020 TOT.
🏅UCL Squad Of Season.
🥉UCL MDF Of The Year.
" It Would Be Strange If Jorginho
Doesn't Won Ballon d'Or 2021 ". pic.twitter.com/7uo8BUMWxC
— | 🅰️bdillahi Youzuph 🆑️ | (@Abdillahi_45) October 10, 2021
He had been crucial to Chelsea and Italy’s glory in Europe last season – after helping Chelsea win the Champions League, Jorginho helped the Azzurri lift the Euro since 1968.
“Who doesn’t dream of that? Dreaming small and dreaming big is the same thing, so it’s better to dream big,” said Jorginho at a press conference while asked about the award.
“Jorginho should receive the Ballon d’Or this year, not the usual suspects,” noted Lippi during the Festival dello Sport event in Trento.
“I absolutely agree,” added former Italy and Grande Milan boss Sacchi.
“I think Jorginho ought to win the Ballon d’Or. He has won everything else and thoroughly deserves it. In fact, it would be strange if anyone else were to win it at this point.”