Ballon d’Or 2021 – Six candidates who must be in the running

Six candidates for the 2021 Ballon d’Or.

The 2021 Ballon d’Or won’t be presented until the end of the year but with a couple of major tournaments now wrapped up, we thought it was a good time to suggest who should be in the running.

Italy’s Euro 2020 victory and Argentina’s Copa America triumph could both be factors in the destination of the 2021 Ballon d’Or, while having a Uefa Champions League medal in your pocket never does your chances any harm.

Ballon d’Or 2021.

The Ballon d’Or is awarded by France Football and since 2007, the managers and captains of national teams have had the right to vote.

While it’s an end of year award, the Ballon d’Or is nearly always presented to the player who stood out in the previous full season, or those who shone during an international tournament.

With all of those factors in mind, here’s who we think should be in the running for the 2021 Ballon d’Or.

Lionel Messi

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will have his eyes on a seventh after leading Argentina to their first Copa America title since 1993.

As ridiculous as it was in the first place, the argument that Messi needs to win an international trophy in order to be considered among the greats has now been put to bed.

Throw in 38 goals in 47 games for Barcelona throughout 2020/21 and the Blaugrana captain might just need to make room on his already bulging mantlepiece.

N’Golo Kante

The midfielder enjoyed a positive start to Euro 2020, covering every blade of grass as he helped France to a 1-0 over Germany.

His influence waned as France limped towards a last 16 exit but the understated Chelsea star can take solace in the fact that big Champions League performances often have an impact on where the Ballon d’Or ends up.

Kante was immense in the knockout stages as Chelsea made their way to the final in Porto and he was awarded Man of the Match after they beat Manchester City 1-0 in the final in May.

Robert Lewandowski

The Bayern Munich forward would have been right to be frustrated at the decision not to receive the Ballon d’Or in 2020.

Lewandowski would have been a shoo-in, as his goals fired Bayern to a treble and himself to the Best Fifa Men’s Player award.

His prolific form continued into the 2020/21 season, with 41 goals in 29 Bundesliga games and while he played for a poor Poland side at Euro 2020, he still managed to score three goals as they were eliminated in the group stage.

Could the 2021 Ballon d’Or have his name on it?

Jorginho

The Italy and Chelsea midfielder joined an exclusive club last week, by winning the European Championship in the same year that he won the Champions League.

A penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final aside, Jorginho had an amazing tournament, covering more ground than any other player in the competition with 86.6km.

Major trophies normally count towards Ballon d’Or votes and if he can transfer his Euros form into the Premier League, he might just turn a few heads.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

No goalkeeper has won the Ballon d’Or since Lev Yashin in 1963 and while Donnarumma is unlikely to win it this year, he could well be in the running in the future.

The young goalkeeper’s performances at Euro 2020 saw him handed the Player of the Tournament award and now that his transfer to PSG has been confirmed, he’s sure to be lighting up some big Champions League nights soon.

France Football actually introduced the Yashin Trophy, an award for the world’s best goalkeeper, in 2019 and Donnarumma can at least expect to take that from the capable hands of inaugural winner Alisson Becker.

Leonardo Bonucci

A defender winning the 2021 Ballon d’Or? Heaven forbid.

It has happened though, most recently in 2006 when Fabio Cannavaro, another trophy-winning Italy defender, was presented with the award.

It’s unlikely that lightning will strike twice in this respect but Bonucci’s magnificent performances for Italy throughout Euro 2020 make him a decent outside bet.

He successfully stepped up in both the semi-final and final penalty shootouts, proving he’s a man for the big moment, and his second-half equaliser against England ensured the Euro 2020 Final would go to the wire.

Bonucci’s celebration when Italy were confirmed as champions will live long in the memory for football fans and, you would expect, those who cast the 2021 Ballon d’Or votes.

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