Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski: Who's been the best footballer in 2021?

Lionel Messi won a historic seventh Ballon d'Or in 2021

So, 2021 is almost at an end.

It’s been yet another story-filled year in the footballing world, from the sport battling on through the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic to the drama at both Euro 2020 and the Copa America in the summer.

Lionel Messi‘s success with Argentina at the latter of those two tournaments saw him win a historic seventh Ballon d’Or back in November.

The little magician has struggled a tad at Paris Saint-Germain so far in 2021/22, but there’s no denying that the former Barcelona man has enjoyed yet another incredible year.

However, The Guardian believe Messi has only been the second-best footballer on the planet in 2021.

In the publication’s annual top 100 list, the 34-year-old has to make do with the silver meal, while his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t even make the top five.

Ronaldo with Man Utd

Mohamed Salah does, though.

Check out the top 30 in full here…

The Guardian’s 30 best footballers in 2021

30. Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)

29. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

28. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

27. Mason Mount (Chelsea)

26. Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)

25. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

24. Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)

23. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

22. Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)

21. Pedri (Barcelona)

Pedri with the Golden Boy award

20. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

19. Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

18. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

17. Federico Chiesa (Juventus)

16. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

15. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

14. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

13. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

12. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)

11. Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)

Lukaku with Chelsea

10. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

9. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)

8. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

7. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

5. Jorginho (Chelsea)

4. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

3. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

2. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

1. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Lewandowski in action

All in all, that’s a pretty solid top 30 and there aren’t many football fans out there who will argue that Lewandowski wasn’t the world’s finest player in 2021.

The Bayern striker broke records for fun throughout the year, finishing with 69 goals to his name for club and country – matching Ronaldo’s most prolific 12-month period.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (34th), Bernardo Silva (45th) and Joao Cancelo (63rd) are the most surprising omissions from the top 30, particularly given their form at club level so far in 2021/22.

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But if they keep going the way they are, all three will be pushing for a top 10 finish in 2022.

The ultimate football quiz of 2021

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Cristiano Ronaldo and which other player scored five goals at Euro 2020?

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