Will Lionel Messi be able to win a record-seventh Ballon d'Or this year? He is the favourite to finish at the top of the podium but we wouldn't be too shocked if things don't work out in his favour either.
The 2021 Ballon d'Or will be awarded to the best male and female footballers on November 29th. The Ballon d'Or is presented by French news magazine France Football and it is, without doubt, the most prestigious individual prize in football. It was cancelled in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Ballon d'Or winner is picked on the basis of a combination of votes from journalists, national team coaches and captains. Last year, Robert Lewandowski was well clear of his competition and is justified in feeling robbed of the award in its absence.
Lionel Messi is widely touted as the favourite to win the Ballon d'Or this year
However, it's a completely different story this time around. Lionel Messi is tipped to be the favourite to win the Ballon d'Or by many. However, there are several other top competitors whose credentials are not easy to overlook.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five of the biggest competitors for Lionel Messi for the Ballon d'Or award.
#5 Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Manchester United)
Cristiano Ronaldo is 36-years-old but he continues to be one of the most prolific strikers on the planet. He most recently scored a hat-trick for Portugal against Luxembourg to take his international goal tally to a whopping 115. He is now six goals clear of former Iranian footballer Ali Daei.
Ronaldo won the Serie A Golden Boot in the 2020-21 season, scoring 29 goals in 33 appearances. He then went on to win the Euro 2020 Golden Boot as well, scoring five goals and providing an assist in four appearances.
The lack of a major trophy could hamper Ronaldo's chances but he's making sure he does not go down without a fight. The Portuguese international won the Premier League Player of the Month award in his first month back in the Premier League.
Ronaldo has already scored five goals in six games for Manchester United this season and is a worthy competitor for the Ballon d'Or this term as well. He will be desperate to match Lionel Messi's haul and win it for a sixth time.
#4 N'Golo Kante (France/Chelsea)
N'Golo Kante unfortunately missed out on the last two games of France's triumphant run in the UEFA Nations League after contracting the coronavirus. France's early exit at Euro 2020 has also hindered his chances of winning the Ballon d'Or.
But going into the summer break, Kante seemed to have made a great case for himself for the 2021 Ballon d'Or. After all, he had produced some mesmerizing performances in Chelsea's victorious UEFA Champions League campaign.
Kante won four man-of-the-match awards in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the Blues. His tenacity, work ethic and tactical intelligence earned him the UEFA Midfielder of the Season award as well. But he might just stop short of pipping Lionel Messi to the Ballon d'Or this term,.