Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

 

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

No Premier League player has won the Ballon d'Or since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008, but Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is one of a number of strong candidates this year.

Cristiano Ronaldo won the award in 2008, having helped Manchester United win the Premier League and Champions League, but no other English-based player even made another podium until Virgil van Dijk finished second some 11 years later.

This year, though, things could change. Two Premier League clubs contested the 2021 Champions League final, while plenty of representatives from the league impressed during the summer's international tournaments.

Another Premier League star to have a big 2021 is Mohamed Salah, with his Liverpool team-mate Alisson saying the Egyptian is "deserving" of the award, along with a number of others.

Ahead of the winner being announced on November 29, Mirror Football looks at the top 10 contenders for the prestigious award.

10. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has always scored goals, regardless of the success of the teams to which he belongs.

The Portugal forward scored 36 last season and already has nine since returning to Manchester United from Juventus, and became the highest all-time international goalscorer this year after passing Ali Daei's record.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

9. Kevin De Bruyne

It was De Bruyne's Belgium who knocked Portugal out of the Euros, and some will feel the midfielder's injury - which he attempted to play through against Italy - was a big factor in Roberto Martinez's side failing to progress beyond the quarter-finals of the competition.

De Bruyne also pulled the strings as Manchester City raced to the Premier League title, and helped them come within 90 minutes of a first Champions League title.

The 30-year-old finished second in Uefa's men's player of the year award, and another podium place isn't out of the question for someone who remains well-respected by his peers.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

8. Kylian Mbappe

While it would be a surprise if Mbappe goes his entire career without a Ballon d'Or, this year might be too early for him.

There have been highs, of course, including the winner in the Uefa Nations League final and a career-best 42 goals for Paris Saint-Germain last season which included a hat-trick at Camp Nou.

His failure to add a Champions League or European Championships title could work against him, though, especially given his failure to score in the latter.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

7. N'Golo Kante

Mbappe's international teammate Kante earned his first Ballon d'Or nomination back in 2017, finishing eighth, but could be in line for a higher ranking this time around.

The Chelsea midfielder was on the field as France were eliminated from the Euros by Switzerland, but it's his club displays which really caught the eye.

He was immense for Chelsea in their run to the Champions League final, before capping it all off with a memorable display as the Blues beat a great Manchester City side.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

6. Gianluigi Donnarumma

No goalkeeper has made it onto the Ballon d'Or podium since Manuel Neuer in 2014, but this could be the year that changes.

Donnarumma was the star of the Euro 2020 final, saving penalties from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the shoot-out to hand Italy victory, and joined PSG in the summer after keeping 14 Serie A clean sheets to help AC Milan finish second.

The Italian is still just 22 years old, so he could have plenty more chances to win the Ballon d'Or in the future.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

5. Karim Benzema

2021 has, undoubtedly, been the year of the Karim Benzema renaissance.

After enjoying his best goalscoring season for Real Madrid in nine years, the French international has already hit 14 for his club this term.

An international return at the age of 33 might not have brought about a European title, but his six goals for Les Bleus this year include four in four games at Euro 2021 and two in two as Didier Deschamps side won the UEFA Nations League.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

4. Jorginho

The only man here to win top European honours at club and international level, the fact that Jorginho isn't a lock for the Ballon d'Or speaks to the quality of competition this year.

Had the midfielder converted the winning penalty at Wembley, rather than being denied by Jordan Pickford and bailed out by Donnarumma, he might be a favourite for the award.

As it is, the Brazil-born Italian is fully deserving of his nomination, and is very much still in the running for the award even if he ultimately comes up short.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

3. Mo Salah

If the Ballon d'Or was awarded to the best player in the world at the time of the ceremony, Salah would have a very strong case.

The Egyptian has arguably found another gear in 2021 after already being one of the best around, scoring 30 goals for Liverpool already this calendar year and ensuring his national team goes into January's Africa Cup of Nations as the favourite.

However, a lack of team honours may end up counting against the former Roma forward, despite the Ballon d'Or nominally being an individual award.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

2. Robert Lewandowski

If the Ballon d'Or had been awarded in 2020, Lewandowski may well have topped the podium after scoring 48 goals for Bayern Munich as they won the Bundesliga and Champions League.

Following a fallow year for the ceremony, the Pole has responded the only way he knows how - by continuing to score goals at a rate which few imagined possible of a player this far into his career.

The 33-year-old is on track for a third straight season of scoring at a rate of more than a goal a game, having helped Bayern romp to the Bundesliga title last term, and there's a strong argument that his injury was the deciding factor in the reigning holders' elimination from last season's Champions League.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

1. Lionel Messi

Earlier this year, former Italy forward Antonio Cassano claimed Jorginho agreed with him that Messi should "always" win the Ballon d'Or. Whether or not you agree, there's certainly a case for the Argentine leading the race for this year's award.

The 34-year-old might not have won anything in his final Barcelona season, but his mere presence prevented the club from collapsing in on itself for at least another year - you only need to look at the chaos since his departure to appreciate that.

Not only that, but Messi finally got the international trophy monkey off his back by helping Argentina win the Copa America.

He wasn't just along for the ride, either - no one else scored more goals than his four at the tournament, while he was named player of the tournament after his country's success.

Even in a crowded field, Messi continues to make his case for a record seventh Ballon d'Or.

Ballon D'or Power Rankings: Top 10 Contenders For The Award

Source: Mirror


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