With the football season finally over, attention has shifted to the Ballon d’Or, with a number of contenders rising throughout the Copa America and European Championships this summer. We take a look at five potential award winners.
If he hadn’t won the Copa America, the out-of-contract Argentine would not have been a major contender, but steering Argentina to their first silverware since 1993 cannot be overlooked. Messi has now earned immortality with his country, as he had already done with Barcelona, and he even exhibited some of his finest form with the Catalans in 2021.
The Pole had a forgettable European Championship, which will almost certainly work against him, but his Bayern Munich success should not be disregarded. In 2020/21, Lewandowski shattered 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 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 deciding the Ballon d’Or winner, thus the former Napoli man has a strong case to be voted the finest player in the world in 2021.
The Portuguese had a season which many would fail to acknowledge. However, that does not take away from the fact that he had a brilliant period of individual performances. He didn’t win the Serie A, but ended up winning the league cup; also finished as the top scorer in the league and the Euro 2020. This should be enough to get him into the top 5.
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 tournament, 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 very successful summer up to that point.