Messi, Lewandowski, Benzema: Ballon d'Or favourites as Ronaldo and De Bruyne fall away

  • Kobe Tong
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Lionel Messi could be about to win his seventh Ballon d'Or trophy.

The return of France Football's prestigious prize is now just a matter of hours away with supporters patiently waiting to see who will be crowned as the standout male footballer of 2021.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and countless other world-class stars are technically in the mix to win the top prize, but it's quietly understood that proceedings are now a two-horse race.

Who will win the Ballon d'Or?

We are, of course, talking about Messi vs Robert Lewandowski with their battle for the major individual prizes proving so nail-bitingly close that they could actually be split between the two.

On the back of a stellar final season at Barcelona and winning the Copa America title with Argentina, Messi is the current favourite to take home the seventh Ballon d'Or title of his legendary career.

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However, write off Lewandowski at your peril because the Bayern Munich stars is the bookies' pick for FIFA's 'The Best' award and was named as the year's top male performer by IFFHS to boot.

And when you consider that the winners of the Ballon d'Or and FIFA's 'The Best' prize have been identical since 2016, it really goes to show just how hotly contested these prestigious titles will be.

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Odds on 2021 Ballon d'Or

So, ahead of the Ballon d'Or getting the awards season underway in style on Monday, we thought that it only made sense to take one last look at how the bookmakers are assessing the contenders.

There has been plenty of change since our last update in early October, so be sure to check out how SkyBet are ranking the 30 nominees by their chances of winning at the time of writing below:

=23. Riyad Mahrez - 250/1

=23. Pedri - 250/1

=23. Nicolo Barella - 250/1

=23. Luka Modric - 250/1

=23. Lautaro Martinez - 250/1

=23. Gerard Moreno - 250/1

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=23. Erling Braut Haaland - 250/1

=23. Cesar Azpilicueta - 250/1

=20. Luis Suarez - 200/1

=20. Leonardo Bonucci - 200/1

=20. Kevin De Bruyne - 200/1

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=12. Simon Kjaer - 150/1

=12. Ruben Dias - 150/1

=12. Romelu Lukaku - 150/1

=12. Raheem Sterling - 150/1

=12. Phil Foden - 150/1

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=12. Neymar - 150/1

=12. Mason Mount - 150/1

=12. Harry Kane - 150/1

11. Giorgio Chiellini - 100/1

=9. Gianluigi Donnarumma - 80/1

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=9. Bruno Fernandes - 80/1

=6. N'Golo Kante - 66/1

=6. Kylian Mbappe - 66/1

=6. Cristiano Ronaldo - 66/1

5. Jorginho - 33/1

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=3. Mohamed Salah - 25/1

=3. Karim Benzema - 25/1

2. Robert Lewandowski - 2/1

1. Lionel Messi - 4/11

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Ballon d'Or 2021: Date, UK Time, Odds, Nominees And Everything You Need To Know

Messi is favourite for historic win

Wowsers. There's been a surprising amount of change with De Bruyne tumbling from joint-fourth favourite all the way down to a wild long shot at 200/1.

Meanwhile, Benzema and Salah have surpassed Jorginho as the most-likely candidates to finish third on the podium and Ronaldo has fallen all the way back from 16/1 to 66/1.

However, it's Messi who stands out as the clear favourite to move even further clear of Ronaldo as the most decorated male footballer in the history of the sport's most decorated individual prize.

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And that's despite the fact that Lewandowski's insane start to the 2021/22 season, scoring a barely-believable 25 goals in 20 games, had caused a steady shift in opinion over the last few weeks.

However, perhaps it goes to show that Messi just had enough credit in the bank from his Argentina heroics in the summer to woo the Ballon d'Or voters with the winner having already been selected.

That could well open the door for Lewandowski to win FIFA's top prize for the second time in a row and who knows, maybe there'd be a degree of poetry in each player taking home a major accolade.

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Either way, though, the ramifications of Messi winning a seventh Ballon d'Or title would be historic because it could hammer a nail in the coffin of the GOAT debate for decades to come. Stay tuned...

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