The 2020/21 season has officially come to a close, and it’s around this time when we start to speculate about our award winners.
The Ballon d’Or is the most high profile individual award in the game, recognising the world’s best player from the past 12 months.
With the season over, we’re now looking at our potential winners.
Two months ago, we compiled a list of the leading candidates for the prize. Since then, we’ve had a Champions League final and a summer of international football.
Some of the list has aged well. Other parts….not so much (whose idea was it to give Antoine Griezmann an honourable mention?).
Anyway, two months on, and we now have a clearer picture of who our 2021 Ballon d’Or winner could be.
The Copa America has tipped the balance in Messi’s favour
As things stand, Messi looks nailed on to secure the seventh Ballon d’Or of his career.
It’s not been the easiest season of the Argentine’s career at club level. Barcelona fell short in La Liga and the Champions League.
Nonetheless, he secured himself the Pichichi for the fifth year in a row.
But it was in the summer when he really staked his claim for the award. As captain, he led Argentina to the Copa America trophy – the first of his career and the country’s first major trophy since 1993.
Individually, Messi was brilliant for La Albiceleste. He topped both the goals and assists charts, scoring four and setting up five.
These performances earned him the Player of the Tournament award to go with the trophy.
All things considered, it isn’t easy to see anyone else winning it.
Lewandowski is the most likely to stop Messi from winning the prize
Perhaps one man who can feel aggrieved is Robert Lewandowski. Having missed out on the award in 2020 due to its rather unfair cancellation, he will have felt like he had a good chance this time around.
As an individual, he had arguably the best season of his career. He broke the record for most goals in a single Bundesliga season, netting 41 in 29 appearances, and added three more at Euro 2020.
Unfortunately, he may not have the trophies to back it up. Winning the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich is unlikely to attract many votes, and the Bavarians didn’t win anything else major.
Lewandowski himself was unlucky to have exited the Champions League early, having missed their quarter-final tie with Paris Saint-Germain through injury.
As for Euro 2020, the forward was part of a side eliminated in the group stages. He did pretty much all he could to drag them through, scoring three times, but this ultimately proved not to be enough.
The Ballon d’Or is an individual honour. In theory, team achievements shouldn’t come into it. But this isn’t really the case. It’s harsh, but the Pole will probably miss out again.
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