Euro 2020 and the Copa America both reached their conclusions over the weekend and we now have a clear picture about which players stand the best chance of winning the 2021 Ballon d’Or award.
Italy defeated England on penalties to win this summer’s European Championships at Wembley.
While Argentina beat rivals Brazil to lift the Copa America trophy for the first time since 1993.
Success at international level will boost certain players’ chances of winning this year’s Ballon d’Or award, but it doesn’t guarantee that an Italian or Argentina will *definitely* secure the prestigious individual accolade at the end of the year.
Contribution at domestic and European level will, of course, also be taken into consideration.
Goal.com have updated their Ballon d’Or Power Rankings, though, and it seems there’s now a clear favourite to win the award.
Let’s take a look at the top 20…
Pedri, who is only 18 years old, further enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a string of eye-catching performances for Spain at Euro 2020.
The gifted midfielder won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona last season.
19. Phil Foden
Phil Foden, 21, sadly missed England’s Euro 2020 final against Italy through injury.
Manchester City’s incredibly talented midfield star could cement his status as one of the world’s best players in 2022.
18. Ilkay Gundogan
Like Foden, Ilkay Gundogan won the Premier League and Carabao Cup with Man City last season.
Will the Germany international win the 2021 Ballon d’Or, though? It’s safe to say ‘no’ is the answer to that question.
17. Mason Mount
Mason Mount won the Champions League with Chelsea and helped England reach the Euro 2020 final, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the 22-year-old picks up a few Ballon d’Or votes this year.
Left in tears after Brazil lost the Copa America final to Argentina at the Maracana in Rio, Neymar now has virtually no chance of winning his first Ballon d’Or this year.
15. Gianluigi Donnarumma
A new entry in Goal’s Power Rankings following his role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph, PSG-bound Gianluigi Donnarumma is now widely regarded as one of the world’s top ‘keepers thanks to his performances at this summer’s European Championships.
The 22-year-old was named the Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament.
14. Harry Kane
After a slow start to Euro 2020, Harry Kane eventually ended the tournament with four goals.
The 27-year-old Tottenham striker will now focus on sorting out his future ahead of the start of the new season. Manchester City are understood to be interested in securing his signature.
13. Ruben Dias
Ruben Dias enjoyed a phenomenal season with Man City last term, winning the Premier League and Carabao Cup, while also reaching the Champions League final.
The Portugal international has been arguably the best centre-back in Europe in 2021.
12. Raheem Sterling
If England had beaten Italy to win Euro 2020, Raheem Sterling would find himself much higher up this list.
The Man City winger was England’s star man over the course of the tournament and stands an outside chance of making the 2021 Ballon d’Or podium.
11. Karim Benzema
After finishing the 2020-21 campaign with 30 goals for Real Madrid, Karim Benzema then went on to net four goals for France at Euro 2020.
The striker turns 34 in December but there aren’t many better No. 9s in world football.
10. Federico Chiesa
After impressing in the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final, Italy’s Federico Chiesa finds himself in the frame for a few Ballon d’Or votes.
The 23-year-old, who is currently on loan at Juventus from Fiorentina, looks a real star in the making.
9. Erling Haaland
The hottest property in world football right now, along with Kylian Mbappe, it’s a pity that we didn’t get to see 20-year-old Erling Haaland at the European Championships.
The prolific Norway international has scored a magnificent 25 goals and provided nine assists for Borussia Dortmund in 2021 so far.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo
Winning the Euro 2020 Golden Boot award should help Cristiano Ronaldo receive a few extra Ballon d’Or votes.
The 36-year-old became the leading goalscorer of all time earlier this year before equalling Ali Daei’s long-standing record for most international goals in history in June.
However, failing to win the Serie A title with Juventus or the European Championships with Portugal will end up counting against him in the race for the Ballon d’Or.
7. Kevin De Bruyne
Despite winning the PFA Player of the Year award following another season of outstanding performances with Man City, it’s hard to see Kevin De Bruyne forcing his way into the 2021 Ballon d’Or conversation.
Had City won the Champions League or Belgium triumphed at Euro 2020, it might be a different story.
6. Kylian Mbappe
With 29 goals and seven assists in 2021, Mbappe has been exceptional again this year.
But missing that decisive penalty for France against Switzerland in the Euro 2020 last 16 means his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or later this year are almost certainly over.
5. Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku played a key role in Inter Milan’s Serie A title triumph last season before netting four goals for Belgium at Euro 2020.
Will that be enough to earn him the 2021 Ballon d’Or? Probably not. Although if he inspires Belgium to Nations League glory in October, that could earn the striker a few extra votes.
4. N’Golo Kante
N’Golo Kante was the favourite for the Ballon d’Or award after helping Chelsea win the Champions League in May. The indefatigable French midfielder was sensational for the Blues during the knockout stages of that tournament.
However, Kante was unable to prevent his national team crashing out of Euro 2020 before the quarter-finals.
Nobody would have imagined back in January that Jorginho would be the third favourite for the Ballon d’Or award by July.
However, the midfielder is now a genuine contender after winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the European Championships with Italy.
"I'm not the one deciding if he deserves the Ballon d'Or, but I hope he'll be shortlisted," Jorginho’s Italy teammates Lorenzo Insigne told reporters. "He deserves it, he is a great player.
"I call him 'The Professor' and we are all happy to play with him."
2. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski has already scored 34 goals and provided a further four assists in 2021 so far.
The European Golden Shoe winner, Lewandowski probably should have won the 2020 Ballon d’Or - but may miss out on 2021’s award because of the man we’re about to talk about…
1. Lionel Messi
Yep, it’s Lionel Messi.
After winning his first major international trophy with Argentina, a record-breaking seventh Ballon d’Or award is winging its way to the Barcelona icon.
As well as winning the Copa America, Messi also sealed the Copa del Rey title with Barça.
The 34-year-old has also scored 33 goals and registered 14 assists in 2021 so far.
He might be in his mid-30s now, but Messi is still head and shoulders above every other player on the planet.
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