Manchester United star Paul Pogba has backed fellow countryman N’Golo Kante to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kante, 30, was in superb form for Chelsea during their Champions League success last season.
The French midfielder scooped the man of the match award in both semi-final ties against Real Madrid.
Kante then went on to deliver a phenomenal performance in the final against Manchester City as he once again secured the man of the match honour.
Both Messi and Ronaldo dominated the Ballon d’Or award from 2008 until Luka Modric snapped up France Football’s coveted prize in 2018.
Messi won his record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or in 2019 ahead of Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo, while the 2020 edition of the award was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, Pogba believes that Kante is in a strong enough position to challenge for the 2021 Ballon d’Or award.
The 28-year-old United midfielder added that his fellow France teammate’s case was strengthened with Ronaldo and Messi’s absence from the Champions League semi-finals.
Pogba toldEurosport France’s FC Stream Team podcast: “What I would like to say to the whole world is that the ‘NG’ we have seen in recent months has always been the same.
“We talk a lot about his performances but he has always been as good as ever.
“There was no Cristiano and Messi in the semi-final, so it’s good to see the performances of the midfielders or even the defenders.
“I said a long time ago that it would be appropriate, if Chelsea won, for him to win the Ballon d’Or. It would be deserved, too.”
Kante could solidify himself as the strong favourite to win the Ballon d’Or with his performances for France in the forthcoming Euro 2020.
Over 40 per cent of fans believe the 2018 World Cup winner should finish No 1 on the Ballon d’Or podium ahead of the likes of Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe.
Pogba went on to admit that the expectations on France at the Euros were even higher with the return of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to the national team.
“We have a PlayStation team, but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don’t win a trophy,” he added.
“We have to live up to expectations and there’ll be even more expected with Karim’s return. It’s nice to see a team sheet like that… It’s always an honour but you always have to be present on the pitch.
“Being world champions and having a team like that, we will be expected to do even more.”