With the football season officially over, attention has shifted to the Ballon d’Or, with a number of contenders rising throughout the Copa America and European Championships this summer.
But, as things stand, who are the frontrunners? We’ve looked at five contenders for the award.
If he hadn’t won the Copa America, the out-of-contract Argentine would not have been a major candidate, but steering Argentina to their first silverware since 1993 cannot be overlooked.
Messi has now earned immortality with his nation, as he had already done with Barcelona, and he even displayed some of his greatest form with the Catalans in 2021.
The much-maligned midfielder is a two-time European champion, having won the Champions League and European Championship with Chelsea and Italy, respectively.
Both the Champions League and international competitions play a big role in choosing the Ballon d’Or winner, thus the former Napoli man has a strong case to be crowned the finest player in the world in 2021.
If England had won Euro 2020, Kane would have been a strong contender for the award. The Tottenham striker took some time to warm up in the competition, but he really came into his own in the knockout stages.
However, he was unable to defeat Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the final, but he had had a pretty successful summer up to that point.
The Pole had a forgettable European Championship, which will almost certainly work against him, but his Bayern Munich success should not be forgotten.
In 2020/21, Lewandowski surpassed a long-standing Bundesliga record by scoring 41 goals in 29 games, although he was still beaten out for the German Player of the Year award by Erling Haaland.
The Italian defender is a long shot to win, but his achievements at Euro 2020 are deserving of praise. Without him, Italy would not have won the European Championship. He formed a defensive wall alongside Leonardo Bonucci and in front of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Since Fabio Cannavaro led Italy to the 2006 World Cup, no defender has received the award, and it may be time for that to change now.
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