The Ballon d'Or is the most prestigious individual prize in the game of football. It is awarded by French news magazine France Football to honour the best performing footballer in the world.
The Ballon d'Or is chosen on the basis of a voting system
The Ballon d'Or winner is picked on the basis of an aggregate of votes from journalists, national team captains and coaches. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ballon d'Or was canceled in 2020. However, it is all set to go ahead this year and it's hard to predict a winner this time around.
Since the Covid-19 break, there has been more than a year of nearly non-stop footballing action. The Cristiano Ronaldo - Lionel Messi rivalry had taken centre stage at the Ballon d'Or awards in the past decade and more.
But this time, the race has been blown wide open and there are a number of worthy contenders. Without further ado, let's take a look at the Ballon d'Or Power Rankings for the month of September 2021.
#10 Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)
It has been a strange summer for Kylian Mbappe. The electric French forward had a disappointing outing at Euro 2020. He failed to score a goal and mustered just a single assist in four appearances for Les Bleus. Mbappe also came close to leaving Paris Saint-Germain this summer but was forced to stay put.
But don't let that distract you from the phenomenal 2020-21 season Mbappe had at an individual level. He scored 42 goals and provided 11 assists in 47 appearances across all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain. He also won the Coupe de France & Trophee des Champions.
Mbappe has started the 2021-22 season well and has four goals and four assists to his name in eight appearances across all competitions so far. It might not be enough to get him the Ballon d'Or this term but Mbappe is tipped to win the award in the future.
#9 Harry Kane (England/Tottenham Hotspur)
Harry Kane won the Premier League Golden Boot and the Playmaker's Award in the 2020-21 season. He also had a good outing at Euro 2020 where he sprang to life in the knockout stages and helped England reach the final. Kane scored four goals in seven appearances for the Three Lions at the tournament.
In the 2020-21 season, Kane scored 33 goals and provided 17 assists in 49 appearances across all competitions for Spurs. The 28-year-old is yet to open his register for the new season and has hit a slump of sorts. A lack of trophies has also severely affected Kane's chances in the Ballon d'Or race.
#8 Romelu Lukaku (Belgium/Chelsea)
Romelu Lukaku has established himself as one of the best strikers in the world. His high-profile return to Chelsea on a big money deal was one of the stories of the summer. Lukaku was arguably Inter Milan's best player as they won the Serie A title after a gap of 11 years.
The Belgian international scored 30 goals and provided 10 assists in 44 appearances across all competitions for the Nerazzurri in the 2020-21 season. Lukaku performed well at Euro 2020 as well, scoring four goals in five appearances in the competition.
The 28-year-old has got off to a good start in the 2021-22 season and has scored four goals in six appearances so far. Lukaku could become a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or in the years to come given how he has become a very well-rounded marksman in recent times.
#7 Erling Haaland (Norway/Borussia Dortmund)
As opposed to most of the players on this list, Erling Haaland had a quiet summer. Norway did not qualify for Euro 2020 and the young striker did not get the chance to feature in the high-profile competition. But it looks like he's making up for lost time with his goalscoring exploits in the new season.
Haaland has scored 11 goals and provided four assists in just eight appearances across all competitions so far this term. He had scored 41 goals and provided 12 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions for Borussia Dortmund in the 2020-21 season.
Halaand also won the DFB Pokal title with the Bundesliga outfit last term and looks set to have yet another incredible season.
#6 Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema had a good summer. After earning a call up to the French national side after an absence of six years, Benzema stood up and delivered. He scored four goals in four appearances for France at Euro 2020.
In the 2020-21 season, he was Real Madrid's best player, scoring 30 goals and providing nine assists in 46 appearances across all competitions. He has worked his way back into the race for the Ballon d'Or on pure individual merit.
In the new season, Benzema has scored a whopping eight goals and provided seven assists in just seven appearances so far. Benzema is one of the best strikers of his generation and looks to be playing at the peak of his powers despite being 33-years-old.
#5 N'Golo Kante (France/Chelsea)
UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Year N'Golo Kante was sensational for Chelsea in the closing stages of the 2020-21 season. He picked up four successive man-of-the-match awards from the second leg of the quarter-final up to the final.
He has also won the UEFA Super Cup. Despite not giving a great account of himself at Euro 2020, Kante has come back strongly. But this might be as far as the Frenchman gets in the Ballon d'Or race this term.
#4 Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Manchester United)
Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines in the summer multiple times. He won the Serie A Golden Boot with Juventus, scoring 29 goals in 33 league games. Ronaldo also won the Golden Boot at Euro 2020 with five goals and one assist in four appearances.
He then copped a move to his former club Manchester United. Just as critics were getting ready to start writing him off, Ronaldo hit the ground running at Old Trafford. He has already scored four goals in three appearances and has shown that despite being 36-years-old, he is still one of the best in the business.
#3 Jorginho (Italy/Chelsea)
No player has had as fulfilling a summer as the Italian midfield metronome Jorginho. He was an integral part of the Chelsea side that won the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup. Jorginho was also influential in Italy's triumph at Euro 2020.
The 29-year-old was also chosen as the UEFA Men's Player of the Year. He is the one that keeps things ticking for Chelsea and Italy in midfield. Jorginho is an intelligent player who is also technically gifted.
He is great with his distribution from a deep-lying role in midfield and is also adept at dispensing his defensive responsibilities. Jorginho led the list for interceptions (25), recoveries (46) and fouls drawn (18) at Euro 2020.
While the jury is still out on whether his teams' triumphs were borne out of his individual brilliance, there is no doubting the fact that Jorginho is a top baller.
#2 Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich)
Robert Lewandowski was robbed off the Ballon d'Or as the award was canceled in 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Polish international won the Bundesliga, Club World Cup and the DFL-Supercup last term with Bayern Munich.
Lewandowski scored three goals in three appearances at Euro 2020 as Poland crashed out in the group stage. He had a tally of 48 goals and nine assists in 40 appearances across all competitions for the Bavarians in the 2020-21 season.
The 33-year-old has started the 2021-22 season in the same vein. Lewandowski has scored 11 goals in eight appearances so far for Bayern Munich this term. If he can maintain his form until December, then there's every chance that he will finally get his hands on the most prestigious individual prize in football.
#1 Lionel Messi (Argentina/Paris Saint-Germain)
Lionel Messi's numbers from the new season will tell you that he has perhaps not got off to a great start to life at his new club. However, his influence does lie beyond the numbers as well and it won't be long before he adds goals and assists to his kitty at Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi has had one heck of a summer. He won the Golden Boot and was picked as the Best Player as Argentina won the 2021 Copa America. Messi had also won the Pichichi Trophy last term with Barcelona, scoring 30 goals in La Liga.
In 47 appearances across all competitions in the 2020-21 season, the 34-year-old scored 38 goals and provided 14 assists. He scored four goals and provided five assists for La Albiceleste at the Copa America. If Messi can find some goals to go with his form, he could very well win a record seventh Ballon d'Or this year.
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