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The 2021 Ballon d’Or will be decided tonight in the 65th annual ceremony at a star-studded event in Paris, France following last year’s cancellation.
30 men’s players have been shortlisted for the men’s award, along with 20 nominees in the women’s category.
But the question remains on everyone’s minds as the reveal of this year’s recipients approaches – who will be this year’s winners?
Barcelona legend and PSG star Lionel Messi is seen as the favourite to pick up the award in the men’s category this year – a win would see him earn his seventh Ballon d’Or.
The Favourite – Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi led his country, Argentina to continental glory when they won the Copa America this summer, beating Brazil 1-0 in the final.
Although Messi had his worst game of the tournament in the final match, the Argentine forward was the star from day one, to no one’s surprise.
On top of this, he won the Copa Del Rey with Barcelona in May as the Catalan side continued to rely on him to get the club the results it needed.
However, his recent move to PSG has not gone to plan so far – Messi has only shown flashes of the brilliance he showcased week in, week out for Barcelona (albeit the flash of brilliance at the weekend was a hat-trick of assists against St Etienne).
The Unofficial Holder – Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski does not own a Ballon d’Or, at least not yet. However, if it weren’t for last year’s cancellation, many believe he would be the current holder.
The Polish forward has carried his insane goalscoring form from 2020 over to 2021, effectively making a two-year bid for a crown that may be rightfully his.
Lewandowski has bagged 73 goals in 60 games for his team, German champions Bayern Munich, since the start of last season and picked up FIFA and UEFA men’s player of the year awards for last year.
The number nine is not one to be overlooked and is expected to be very close to the top of the list, if not at the summit.
The Egyptian King – Mo Salah
Liverpool were terrible at the beginning of 2021. Six consecutive losses at home, no imagination, no vision – they seemed a lost cause.
However, their star persevered. Mo Salah carried their flaccid attack to the finish line, with his his nine goals and two assists playing a big part in getting the side into the Champions League spots at the end of the season.
Fast-forward to now and he is (still) on fire – arguably the best player on the planet based on form.
His sensational haul of 17 goals and nine assists in just 18 games so far this season underlines his already legendary status on Merseyside – where many believe the form has made him worthy of the Ballon d’Or.
The Italian Job – Jorginho
Jorginho’s work in the Chelsea midfield last season (and years before) was extremely underrated as the club won the UEFA Champions League for the second time.
His ability to set the tempo of their play and dictate games is something that is now being deservedly lauded – because he played a starring role n Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.
Jorginho was one of three in the Italian midfield and the extra man in Mancini’s team allowed him to flourish at another level (although it is believed that his Chelsea midfield partner N’Golo Kanté counts as two men).
His work as the sole six in the eleven helped Italy to dominate possession all the way to the European crown.
The Italian has continued his stellar form this season, with a UEFA Super Cup to his name already, and is part of a Chelsea side that looks as if it will be tough to dislodge from the top of the Premier League table.
The award will end up in someone’s hands tonight – chances are it will be one of these four. Will Messi reach seventh heaven? Will Lewandowski get what he deserves? Will Salah become the first African since George Weah to win it? Will Jorginho add another accolade to his name? Or will it be someone else? Let us know your thoughts below.