Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have almost exclusively held the Ballon d’Or between them over the past 13 years.
Luka Modric temporarily broke the duopoly in 2018, only for Messi to claim the prestigious individual accolade for a record-breaking sixth time a year later.
The 2020 Ballon d’Or was cancelled because of you know what, which may have cost Robert Lewandowski his best chance of winning the award.
Bayern Munich’s lethal Polish striker is among the favourites to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or after breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing Bundesliga record for most goals in a single campaign (41).
However, Chelsea’s Champions League final victory over Manchester City has seen N’Golo Kante, named Man of the Match at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, catapult to first place in Goal.com’s latest Ballon d’Or rankings.
2020 Ballon d'Or: Who are the favourites?
Here are the 20 leading candidates for the 2021 Ballon d’Or, as things stand…
20. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
Unless Neymar is unbelievable for Brazil at the Copa America, it’s hard to see the PSG forward coming anywhere close to winning the 2021 Ballon d’Or.
19. Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
Moreno helped Villarreal win the Europa League and could start for Spain at Euro 2020. If La Roja win this summer’s tournament, you never know…
18. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
Muller is back in the Germany squad for Euro 2020 and won the Bundesliga title and Club World Cup with Bayern Munich this season.
17. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Excellent again for Borussia Dortmund this term, Sancho would only become a Ballon d’Or contender if he inspired England to glory at Euro 2020.
16. Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
Suarez helped Atletico win the La Liga title during his first season at the Wanda Metropolitano after being dumped by Barcelona and will aim to win the Copa America with Uruguay.
15. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Harry Kane won this season’s Premier League Golden Boot award and will now have his sights set on firing England to victory at Euro 2020.
14. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Manchester United’s talisman was unable to get his hands on the Europa League trophy, but can he help Portugal win this summer’s European Championships?
13. Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Mason Mount’s chances of winning the Ballon d’Or have increased after Chelsea’s Champions League triumph. He is also expected to start for England at Euro 2020.
12. Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)
Excellent for Man City at the turn of the year, Gundogan sealed a Premier League winners’ medal but was unable to add the Champions League trophy to his collection.
11. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Haaland scored a ridiculous 41 goals in 41 games during his first full season with Borussia Dortmund and looks certain to win the Ballon d’Or one day. The 2021 Ballon d’Or, however, might be just beyond the world-class 20-year-old’s reach.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Ronaldo sealed Serie A’s top scorer award after netting 29 goals and won both the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana with Juventus in what might be his final season in Turin. If he wins Euro 2020 with Portugal, the 36-year-old would probably become the 2021 Ballon d’Or favourite.
9. Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Foden suffered disappointment with his beloved City in the Champions League final, but what a season the 21-year-old has had. The gifted midfielder should be one of the first names on Gareth Southgate’s England teamsheet at Euro 2020.
8. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Benzema was brilliant again for Real Madrid this term and has returned to the France squad ahead of Euro 2020 after a six-year exile. Can the prolific centre-forward inspire Les Bleus to glory this summer?
7. Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)
Lukaku bagged 24 Serie A goals as he fired Inter to their first Scudetto since 2010. There’s talk that the Belgium international could be on his way back to Chelsea this summer.
6. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Following a magnificent debut season in England, Dias won the Premier League and was named the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year as well as City’s Player of the Season. If he shines at Euro 2020 with Portugal, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he’ll end the year with the Ballon d’Or.
5. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
No player in Europe’s top five leagues received more Man of the Match awards than Messi (22). Barcelona’s legendary forward has been sensational once again this season and will be desperate to finally land his hands on a major international trophy this summer by winning the Copa America with Argentina.
4. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
It’s such a shame that De Bruyne was forced off during the Champions League final through injury. The Belgium midfielder, who is arguably the best player in the Premier League, didn’t deserve that.
3. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Lewandowski has scored goals for fun this season with Bayern but the Ballon d’Or might not happen for him unless he drags Poland to the latter stages of Euro 2020.
2. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Mbappe certainly has the potential to inspire France to glory at Euro 2020 and has enjoyed another brilliant campaign with PSG. If it doesn’t happen for him this year, though, it almost certainly will in the future.
1. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
But it’s Kante who is now the favourite to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or, in the eyes of Goal.com. Every football fan would love to see the Frenchman get his hands on the award, wouldn’t they? Just imagine how shy he’ll be during his acceptance speech!
One of the most humble and universally loved footballers ever, there’s every chance Kante secures the Ballon d’Or if France are crowned Euro 2020 winners.
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