The Ballon d'Or is set to return after a year's absence and the race for the most prestigious award has been blown wide open.
The Ballon d'Or is widely seen as the most prestigious individual accolade in the history of the beautiful game. France Football magazine awards the Ballon d'Or and it is decided by a combination of votes from journalists, national team captains and coaches in world football.
The award was canceled in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic but is likely to go ahead without any hitches this time around.
2021 Ballon d'Or race intensifies
Last year, we could all agree that there was a clear favourite to win the Ballon d'Or. Robert Lewandowski was a cut above the rest last year and Bayern Munich were absolutely unstoppable in Europe. However, other players have stepped up this time around and this Ballon d'Or race could go down to the wire.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the Ballon d'Or rankings for the month of April, 2021.
#10 Erling Haaland - Borussia Dortmund
Arguably the most sought-after striker in Europe at the moment, Erling Haaland has been a force to reckon with all season. Given Borussia Dortmund's current predicament with respect to their domestic and European campaigns, however, Haaland could end the season with no major trophies.
Dortmund crashed out of the Champions League and are now fifth in the Bundesliga table. They have made it to the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal and that's their only hope of silverware which in turn makes it hard for Haaland to stake a claim on the Ballon d'Or this year.
He also did not have a great month of April by his own standards. Haaland scored two goals and provided two assists this month and has taken his goal tally to 37 across all competitions for Borussia Dortmund. He has scored 18 goals and provided seven assists this year.
#9 Ruben Dias - Manchester City
Manchester City have mounted a challenge on all fronts this season but their dreams of winning the continental treble took a beating as they crashed out of the FA Cup in the semi-final against Chelsea.
But they remain favourites to win the Premier League and League Cup and are also one of the strongest contenders in the UEFA Champions League as well. Ruben Dias is one of the main reasons why Manchester City have been able to get back to their best.
Dias has been an absolute force in defense and he hardly ever puts a foot wrong. He has helped Manchester City keep 14 clean sheets in 28 appearances in the Premier League and has justified his €68 million price tag.
#8 Ilkay Gundogan - Manchester City
Ilkay Gundogan was in sublime form at the beginning of the year. He rose to the challenge in the absence of Kevin de Bruyne and supplied goals from midfield on a consistent basis. We've seen less of that in recent weeks and Gundogan has just one assist to his name in the month of April.
He is still one of Manchester City's best players this season. The German international has scored 16 goals for the Cityzens across all competitions but he is now starting to slip further down the rankings as his contribution starts to trickle.
#7 Bruno Fernandes - Manchester United
Manchester United are steadily becoming one of the strongest units in the Premier League once again and Bruno Fernandes is at the heart of it.
Though his numbers have not exactly been incredible this month, he has played a huge role in the Red Devils' staying safe at second in the Premier League and cruising to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
As they've already crashed out of the League Cup, FA Cup and are very unlikely to overtake Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, the Europa League remains Bruno's only shot at winning silverware this term.
Bruno Fernandes has scored 24 goals and provided 13 assists for the Red Devils across all competitions. Those numbers are on par with the very best in the business.
#6 Harry Kane - Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur have endured a slew of disappointing results and have sacked Jose Mourinho from the manager's role. However, even in a difficult season, Harry Kane has been able to come up trumps.
Kane has scored four goals in three appearances in April and is currently leading the goalscoring chart in the Premier League. Harry Kane has scored 21 goals in the Prem and provided a further 13 assists.
He has been shouldering a lot of the pressure all by himself and will be hoping to bring an end to Spurs' trophy drought when they take on Manchester City in the League Cup final this weekend.
#5 Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus
Juventus' dream of winning a tenth consecutive Serie A title is surely dead now as they languish in third in the league table, 11 points behind league leaders Inter Milan. Cristiano Ronaldo continues to perform at the highest level though and he has been their standout performer once again.
Ronaldo has scored 32 goals for Juventus across all competitions this term and has provided five assists as well. 17 goals and three assists and winning the Supercoppa Italiana makes 2021 a productive year for Ronaldo but at the age of 36, there is growing concern over how long the Portuguese can keep this going.
There are also questions over whether or not Juventus is the right place for him to be at if he is chasing a sixth Ballon d'Or.
#4 Neymar - Paris Saint-Germain
Neymar is proving to us once again why he belongs up there with the very best. Paris Saint-Germain have now beaten Barcelona and Bayern Munich on their way to the UEFA Champions League semi-final and Neymar played a crucial role in their win over the reigning champions of Europe.
Though he has missed the majority of the season through injury, he has been excellent in the limited time in which he has featured. He provided two assists in Paris Saint-Germain's first leg win over Bayern Munich and was one of the best players on the park in the second leg as well.
Brazil are also the favourites to win the Copa Del Rey this term. If Paris Saint-Germain can win the UEFA Champions League, Neymar will be one of the strongest contenders for the grandest individual prize in football.
#3 Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich crashing out of the UEFA Champions League would have greatly hindered Robert Lewandowski's chances of winning the Ballon d'Or. He has had two incredible back-to-back seasons on an individual level.
With the Bundesliga remaining the only major title the Bavarians can win this season, despite clocking incredible numbers, Lewandowski might only make it to the podium. The Polish international has scored 40 goals and provided six assists across all competitions this term for Bayern Munich.
Lewandowski was robbed off the Ballon d'Or last year and he might just miss out on it once again due to a lack of trophies despite scoring 25 goals and providing three assists already this calendar year, which is quite heartbreaking to say the least.
#2 Lionel Messi - Barcelona
Barcelona are breaking out of the shadow of last summer's mishaps and Bartomeu's mismanagement. Under Ronald Koeman, Barcelona have settled down well and last week they won the Copa Del Rey. They have also fought their way back into the La Liga title race and maintain a good chance of winning the domestic double.
Lionel Messi has been at the forefront of Barcelona's resurgence and after struggling in the earlier part of the season, he has got back to his best and how! He scored a brace as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa Del Rey.
Messi has scored 31 goals and provided 10 assists for Barcelona across all competitions, out of which 21 goals and eight assists have come in 2021. If Barcelona go on to win the domestic double, he could very well win a seventh Ballon d'Or.
#1 Kylian Mbappe - Paris Saint-Germain
Kylian Mbappe was the difference maker in the first leg of Paris Saint-Germain's UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich. He bagged a brace and laid the foundation for PSG's win over the reigning champions of Europe.
Mbappe has been at his vicious best this season and has scored 35 goals and provided 10 assists for Paris Saint-Germain across all competitions. Paris Saint-Germain have already won the Trophee des Champions and are favourites to win the Champions League as well.
They are a point behind Ligue 1 leaders LOSC Lille and there's no predicting how that one is going to play out. Mbappe will undoubtedly be a difference maker in the Euros as well and if he can keep this up, this could potentially be his year. He has scored 23 goals and provided three assists this calendar year.