The race for the 2021 Ballon d'Or award has been a fascinating one so far. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are once again in the conversation, while there have been some stunning performances by other players in recent months as well.
Performances in the 2 major international tournaments this summer - Copa America 2021 and Euro 2020 - could have a huge say in the Ballon d'Or race.
The race for the 2021 Ballon d'Or award is heating up
With just over 3 months to go, the Ballon d'Or race is reaching its finish line. Some players could yet make a late dash for the award by getting an incredible start to the new season.
However, with no major trophies left to compete for, the favorites for the Ballon d'Or award are not expected to change much in the coming months.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the 5 favorites to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or award.
#5 Jorginho (Chelsea/Italy)
What a year Jorginho has had! From winning the UEFA Champions League to playing a starring role in Italy's Euro 2020 triumph, Jorginho's incredible trophy haul this season has dragged him into the 2021 Ballon d'Or conversation.
Speaking to SporTV about his own Ballon d'Or chances, Jorginho said:
"We all have dreams. But, I'll be honest, it depends on the criteria that the decision is based on.
"If we're talking about talent then I know I'm not the best in the world. But if it's going on titles, then nobody has won more than I have this season.
"How could I compare myself to [Lionel] Messi, Neymar or Cristiano Ronaldo? They've got completely different characteristics to me. But, I repeat, it depends on the criteria."
As Jorginho himself said, no one has won more than him this season and it will be interesting to see where he finishes in the 2021 Ballon d'Or race.
#4 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal)
Individually Cristiano Ronaldo has had a fine goalscoring season. However, a lack of major trophies has put a major dent in Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or 2021 chances.
The Portuguese superstar did win the Golden Boot in both Serie A and Euro 2020, but Juventus and Portugal's inability to claim the top prize makes a potential 6th Ballon d'Or award extremely unlikely for Cristiano Ronaldo.
At 36, Ronaldo continues to defy age and keeps scoring goals regularly. If he makes an incredible start to the 2021/22 season, Ronaldo could have an extremely slim chance of claiming the prestigious individual prize this year.
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#3 N'Golo Kante (Chelsea/France)
After the UEFA Champions League final, there were multiple calls for N'Golo Kante to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or award. However, France's early elimination at Euro 2020 could see the humble Frenchman miss out on the game's most prestigious individual honor.
One of the best defensive midfielders to ever play the game, Kante put on a midfield masterclass in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League to guide Chelsea to a memorable victory.
But a subpar performance at Euro 2020 has seen the Chelsea man fall behind in the race to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or award. Kante plays in a position that often does not get enough of the limelight and it looks unlikely that he will be able to do enough in the next 3 months to claim the top prize.
#2 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland)
What more can Robert Lewandowski do? The Bayern Munich man has been in sensational goalscoring form for more than a year now. Unfortunately, it looks like he might just fall short of the Ballon d'Or award once again.
One of the most complete strikers to ever play the game, Lewandowski has taken his game to new heights in the last 2 seasons. Last season, the Polish superstar broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record for the most goals scored in a single Bundesliga season.
If the Ballon d'Or award had not been canceled in 2020, Robert Lewandowski would have definitely won it. This year, however, the Bayern Munich star might narrowly fall short.
#1 Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)
After winning the Copa America 2021 tournament, Lionel Messi is the firm favorite to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or award. The Argentine legend not only won an international trophy finally, he also played a starring role in his country's historic triumph.
Lionel Messi has been in sensational form this calendar year. After securing the La Liga Golden Boot with Barcelona, Messi dominated the Copa America tournament, winning the Golden Boot as well as the Player of the Tournament award (along with Neymar).
Lionel Messi's stupendous performance in Copa America 2021 makes him the favorite to claim his 7th Ballon d'Or award this year.