On Monday, footballer Lionel Messi was awarded his seventh Ballon d’Or in Paris.
The Paris Saint-Germain star was given the prestigious French football award at the 65th annual ceremony, but his rival Ronaldo seemingly thinks that he deserved it more.
When a fan account ranted about how Ronaldo was robbed of the Ballon d’Or this week, the footballer himself showed his agreement in the comments.
FAN CLAIMS RONALDO DESERVED BALLON D’OR
A popular Instagram Ronaldo fan account called @cr7.o_lendario, who has 325,000 followers, took to Instagram to post their reaction to Messi winning the Ballon d’Or.
First, they listed Ronaldo’s many achievements this year before saying: “Regardless of his age, [Ronaldo] is a guy who continues to perform miracles and impresses the world most often.”
He then went on to say that Ronaldo was robbed and deserved the Ballon D’Or over Messi, writing:
“Cristiano was way better, and the prize goes to who? For Messi, who only won Copa do Ei for Barcelona, hasn’t scored a goal against Real Madrid since Cristiano left and missed in the big games of the season.”
The Instagram user continued to list Messi’s lack of achievements before saying:
“For Ronaldo to win this award he has to be 300% unquestionable. It’s not use scoring the most beautiful goal of the the year, being champion of everything for a club, top scorer of everything and scoring a hat-trick in the world cup.”
“With Messi, it’s the opposite. He can have a low season, way down, they’ll always find a way to favour him and give him the award. Steal. Dirt. Shame. It’s just unfortunate,” he concluded before adding:
“Those who are intelligent enough know who deserves the truth. Receiving awards without deserving it, is false happiness, without pride. Regardless of those awards, C27 will always be the best in history.”
RONALDO COMMENTS ‘FACTOS’
Ronaldo himself read the fan’s Instagram post and decided to show his support in the comments.
He commented the word “Factos” alongside a thumbs up and eyes emoji, which means “facts” in Spanish and Portuguese.
The Manchester United footballer was seemingly saying that he agrees that he deserved the Ballon d’Or, and the comment was a sly dig at his rival Messi.
RONALDO SAYS WINNING BALLON D’OR AWARDS ISN’T HIS AMBITION
Despite commenting “Factos” and claiming he deserved the Ballon d’Or awards, Ronaldo recently revealed that winning more Ballon d’Ors isn’t his only ambition.
On Friday, days before the Ballon d’Or ceremony, French editor Pascal Ferre told the New York Times: “Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi – and I know that because he has told me.”
Ronaldo then slammed his claims on Instagram, writing: “Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for.”
“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or,” he continued.
“The biggest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for the national team in my country. The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.”
Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi won the 2021 Ballon d’Or, his record-extending seventh player of the year award in his career. He beat out Bayern Munich and Poland forward Robert Lewandowski, who was the other top contender.
FC Barcelona star attacking midfielder Alexia Putellas won the women’s award, PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma was voted the best goalkeeper in the world, and another Barcelona player, 19-year-old Pedri, was named the best men’s Under-21 player in the world.
Robert Lewandowski was named the inaugural Striker of the Year as the top scorer for club and country, while Chelsea FC took home the Club of the Year with the most candidates across the Ballon d’Or awards.
LIONEL MESSI WINS HIS SEVENTH BALLON D’OR🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Lionel Messi has won an historic seventh Ballon d’Or after picking up the prestigious individual award at a ceremony in Paris.
The 34-year-old has now won the Ballon d’Or in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021, meaning he has lifted the prize handed to the best player in world football more times than any other male player in its history, two clear of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi beat out Robert Lewandowski who finished in second place and Chelsea midfielder Jorghino who was ranked third in the voting.
The forward added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019 trophies after winning the Copa America for the first time with his country last July.
“It’s incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa America was key”, Messi said at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.
Messi, who joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer from Barcelona during the summer, collected 613 points, with Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski, named best striker on Monday, getting 580.
Jorginho, who won the Champions League with Chelsea and the European Championship with Italy, ended up third on 460, ahead of France’s Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante in fourth and fifth places respectively.
Club of the year: Chelsea FC
2021 was a memorable one for Chelsea and they have been handed the award for the Club of the Year!
Of course, Thomas Tuchel’s team won the Champions League and are top of the Premier League while Emma Hayes’ side made the final of the Women’s Champions League last season.
N’Golo Kante: 5th in the Ballon d’Or
Jorginho: 3rd in the Ballon d’Or
Chelsea: 2021 Club of the Year
What a run for Chelsea!
Best Goalscorer Award
Bayern Munich and Poland striker Lewandowski has won the Striker of the Year award! He enjoyed an excellent 2021, breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing record for the most Bundesliga goals in a single season!
Italy and PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has won the 2021 Yashin Trophy, beating out Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy who had been tipped for the award.
Donnarumma won the Best Player award at Euro 2020 and made the switch from AC Milan to the French capital in the summer.
Gianluigi Donnarumma beats out the likes of Edouard Mendy (2nd), Jan Oblak (3rd), Ederson (4th), Manuel Neuer (5th), Emiliano Martinez (6th).
Women’s Ballon d’Or
What an extraordinary year it’s been for Women’s Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who is crowned the winner ahead of stars Jenni Hermoso, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema.
Pedri has won the Kopa trophy handed to the best male player age 21 or under. It’s certainly true that the teenager had an incredible year for Barcelona and Spain!
Bukayo Saka came sixth in the voting with Mason Greenwood fifth and Jude Bellingham in second place!
2021 Kopa Trophy Ranking:
1 | Pedri 2 | Jude Bellingham 3 | Jamal Musiala 4 | Nuno Mendes 5 | Mason Greenwood 6 | Bukayo Saka 7 | Florian Wirtz 8 | Ryan Gravenberch 9 | Giovanni Reyna 9 | Jérémy Doku
More to follow… Keep refreshing the page to getting more information!
Men’s Ballon d’Or Rankings (2nd to 10th)
Lewandowski at 2nd place in the Ballon d’Or rankings
Kante 5th, Benzema 4th, Jorginho 3rd!
Ronaldo 6th, Salah 7th De Bruyne 8th
There will be no sixth Ballon d’Or for Cristiano Ronaldo this evening with the Portuguese forward finishing sixth in the ranking! Sixth-place Ronaldo finishes outside the top five in the Ballon d’Or for the first time since 2010.
Kevin de Bruyne has been ranked sixth in the Ballon d’Or voting with Mohamed Salah in seventh place! Both players have enjoyed brilliant years with Salah arguably in the form of his life right now!
Of course, de Bruyne helped Manchester City to their third Premier League title in four years.
Welcome! We’re on matchday five of the Champions League now, and here’re all you need to know before the Tuesday matches start! Before our preview begins, please do not hesitate to subscribe to the matches you’re waiting for on our ‘Opera Football’ app, you will surely receive one of the quickest and best livescores & event pushes once the match starts!
Villarreal vs Manchester Utd
Both teams are on seven points at the top of this UEFA Champions League (UCL) group, and depending on Atalanta’s result, Group F can be won with a matchday to spare. Villarreal enter this clash with something to prove, having dropped two points despite leading at half-time in their weekend match at Celta Vigo, although that was a fourth game unbeaten across their last five (W2, D2, L1). A Villarreal win would see them equal the ten-point tally that was sufficient to win a group containing Manchester United back in their debut UCL campaign (2005/06). History awaits if the hosts can utilise home advantage from the start, as the ‘Yellow Submarine’ are yet to win a H2H (D5, L1) or score before half-time in a UCL clash against the ‘Red Devils’.
The sole defeat in that record came via a devastating stoppage-time winner from Man United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the reverse clash on matchday two. Times have changed though, and United travel after a bruising 4-1 defeat to Watford on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked following, after a third defeat by a 2+ goal margin in five matches. A win here at the Estadio de la Cerámica should all but secure top spot for United, given their relatively easier finish to this group stage with a game at home to Young Boys on the final matchday. That said, the three-time European champions have conceded 2+ goals in each of their last four UCL away games (D1, L3), illustrating the task that lies ahead for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s replacement. Players to watch: Villarreal’s Arnaut Danjuma has seen two of his last four goals come in stoppage time of either half. Ronaldo could be ready to haunt Villarreal again though, as he’s closed the scoring in each of Man United’s last three UCL outings (W2, D1). Hot stat: Each of Villarreal’s UCL games this term have seen at least one goal beyond the 80th minute. Our prediction: Villarreal 1-1 Manchester Utd
Dyn. Kyiv vs Bayern Munich
A 6-1 victory at the weekend pushed Dynamo Kiev top of the Ukrainian Premier League by virtue of goal difference (W12, D2, L1) although the hosts need to improve upon their UEFA Champions League (UCL) form if they’re to qualify from Group E. Sat five points behind second-placed Barcelona with two matches to play, that’s likely to prove a tall order but a third-placed finish and potential Europa League campaign could prove a handy consolation. The hosts’ attacking output will need to improve drastically if that’s a possibility though. That’s because Dynamo have failed to score in their four UCL matches this campaign (D1, L3) whilst they’ve mustered just nine shots on target, three less than Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has managed on his own (12)!
Visiting Bayern suffered a shock 2-1 Bundesliga loss to Augsburg last time out, but with the German champions already guaranteed qualification from UCL Group E after four wins from four outings, the pressure is off for this long trip to Ukraine. In fact, top spot in the group will be secured with a game to spare if Bayern can avoid defeat here. What will be a cause for concern though, is Bayern’s poor recent away record against Ukrainian opposition. The visitors are winless in their last three such matches (D2, L1) and were defeated 2-0 in their last away H2H in 2000. They’re unlikely to be held goalless again here however, as Julian Nagelsmann’s outfit are currently averaging a whopping four goals per match across all competitions this season. Players to watch: Dynamo’s Vitaliy Buyalskyi has eight goals in 13 league outings this campaign after netting a brace in his last match. Bayern’s Lewandowski has scored in his last eight UCL appearances and is looking to become the first player in competition history to net in nine straight matches on more than one occasion. Hot stat: Bayern could become the first ever team to score four or more goals in four straight UCL matches. Our prediction: Dyn. Kyiv 1-4 Bayern Munich
Barcelona vs Benfica
A season record 74,418 fans at the Camp Nou witnessed club legend Xavi Hernández’s Barcelona managerial bow in a 1-0 win over Espanyol last weekend. As Xavi etches his name into the record books as the fifth individual to both play for and manage the ‘Blaugrana’ in the UEFA Champions League (UCL), the need for three points supersedes emotion as a win will guarantee progress from the group stages for an 18th season in a row, something which looked beyond reach after starting with consecutive 3-0 losses. While back-to-back 1-0 UCL wins have put them in pole position for second place, Barça remain shot-shy with only Malmö (four) having fewer shots on target in the competition than their six. Yet, their 11 first-half shots over the weekend vs Espanyol (four on target) is Barça’s season-best for the first period in all competitions, hinting at a change of focus and possibly fortunes.
The scars of a 3-0 loss to Benfica are still fresh though, with that win ending the Portuguese side’s 60-year wait for a win over Barcelona. Back-to-back domestic wins before this trip just plaster over their diminishing UCL form, as Benfica have conceded nine goals across their last two matchdays after starting the group stage with two clean sheets. Benfica last progressed from the UCL group stages in 2016/17, with the ‘Eagles’ winning just once across their last 13 UCL competition proper away games (W1, D3, L9), and conceding an average of 2.85 goals per game. Whilst a win here would see them leapfrog their hosts – with an easier final matchday ahead – the fanfare surrounding the homecoming of Xavi will make this a difficult assignment for the visitors. Players to watch: Memphis Depay’s match-winning penalty over the weekend for Barcelona made it a joint-league high seven La Liga points won via his goals (seven) this season. Meanwhile, Benfica’s history-chasing Darwin Núñez has three UCL goals this season and can become just the third player to net three against Barcelona in a single group stage, after his brace in Lisbon. Hot stat: The team scoring first has lost only once in Barcelona’s 17 competitive matches this Our prediction: Barcelona 1-0 Benfica
Chelsea vs Juventus
It’s going swimmingly in the Premier League for Chelsea who currently sit at the top of the table, yet there’s work to be done if they want to finish top of UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group H (W3, L1). Their one defeat, which came against Juventus in the reverse fixture (1-0), was also the only game in which they conceded in this competition. Consequently they’re three points off the Italian giants with two rounds to play, making this a real six-pointer. With qualification into the knockout stage all but secure, it’ll be revenge and finishing first that will be the driving motivation heading into this clash. Not only did the ‘Blues’ suffer their first UCL defeat since April against the ‘Old Lady’, but that fixture also extended their winless H2H run against the two-time competition winners to four matches (D2, L2), the last two of which ended in defeat ‘to nil’.
Another win for Massimiliano Allegri’s Juventus would create history. Not only would his team become the first to record three consecutive UCL victories against Chelsea, but they’d also be the first to win four consecutive UCL/European Cup away matches against English opponents. This is a feat they’ll surely be backing themselves to do given their 100% record in the competition so far. Whilst success on the continent has masked their domestic woes this season – they currently sit outside Serie A’s top six – overall form does look to be on an upward trajectory. They’ve lost only two of their last 11 competitive matches (W8, D1), restricting their opponents to one goal or less in seven of those clashes. Players to watch: Chelsea’s ever-present creative threat Reece James has registered an assist in three of his last four matches for club and country, whilst Juventus’ Federico Chiesa scored second-half goals in the last H2H and in his team’s most recent UCL win. Hot stat: Chelsea have won just one of their last ten UCL matches vs Italian opposition (D3, L6). Our prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Juventus
Lille vs Salzburg
After domestic stalemates over the weekend, Lille and Salzburg turn their attention to their penultimate Group G fixture of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League (UCL). Starting this matchday occupying the top two places in the group, both clubs could almost certainly book their place in the next stage of the tournament if they get a result, a welcome surprise given that neither team has advanced from a UCL group stage for 15 years! Lille have hosted two scoreless draws in this group stage against the other two Group G clubs to date (Wolfsburg and Sevilla) and after registering a further three draws from their last four Ligue 1 fixtures – albeit with goals scored in all three – the hosts will be challenging for the title of biggest forearms in Europe after all the arm wrestling they’ve participated in!
Salzburg’s attackers are in need of an energy drink after the team registered just two goals across their last three matches in all competitions (W1, D1, L1). Whilst consecutive clean sheets in the league has kept their enormous lead at the top of the Austria Bundesliga intact, both teams have scored in all six of their UEFA matches this season and thus their recent solid defending appears unlikely to continue. They’ll even do well to keep Lille off the scoresheet in the first half, having registered three 1-1 results at the break across their four group stage games so far, although the exception did come in their 2-1 home win in the reverse fixture. With an inaugural Round of 16 place to be secured with victory, there’ll be no shortage of both nerves and motivation for the Austrian outfit. Players to watch: Lille striker Jonathan David has scored first for his club or country in five of his last six appearances of at least 20 minutes, whilst Karim Adeyemi has found the back of the net in three of his last seven Salzburg games in all competitions. Hot stat: The half-time result has been replicated at full-time in just one of the last eight competitive matches involving either team. Our prediction: Lille 1-1 Salzburg
With only four points separating those at the top and bottom of UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group G, an enticing climax is in store with any outcome possible heading into the penultimate round. Even last-placed Sevilla have destiny in their own hands. They’ve been involved in both a fiesty and fruitless campaign so far, with two of their matches producing a red card (D3, L1), but a pair of victories in their last two group games would be enough to secure progression to the next round. Home was a sanctuary for ‘Sevillistas Rojiblancos’ this season, until Lille handed them their first defeat of the campaign on their own turf in all competitions last round (W5, D2). A visit from Wolfsburg will have the Sevilla faithful on the edge of their seats, with their team only previously securing two wins in their nine UCL fixtures against German opposition (D4, L3 – excluding qualifiers). Wolfsburg know they need a positive result in order to avoid requiring favours from others come the final round of the group stages. Anything but a loss will set up what will essentially be a playoff with Lille on the final matchday, as the visitors are currently deadlocked on five points with the reigning Ligue 1 champions. Manager Florian Kohfeldt will be instructing his troops to focus on their concentration here given that they dropped two valuable points against Sevilla in the 87th minute in the reverse fixture. But winning only three of their previous ten UCL road games shows the magnitude of the task that awaits the ‘Wolves’ should they wish to progress (D1, L6). Players to watch: Sevilla midfielder Ivan Rakitić, who scored in the reverse, has never lost a UCL game when getting on the scoresheet (W7, D2). Opposing him is Lukas Nmecha, who has seen five of his last seven goals come away from home for Wolfsburg. Hot stat: Sevilla have failed to win any of their last five UCL group games on matchday five (D1, L4). Our prediction: Sevilla 2-2 Wolfsburg
Young Boys vs Atalanta
On this penultimate matchday of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage, things are looking wide open in terms of qualification in Group F. All four teams can technically still finish in the top two, although Atalanta would condemn Young Boys to bottom spot if they win here at the Wankdorf Stadium after the Swiss outfit lost all of their group games following their shock matchday one victory vs Manchester United. Another defeat here for the hosts would give Swiss Champions Young Boys an unwanted record too – their first set of four consecutive defeats in a major European competition. Indeed, a four-game winless run in all competitions coming into this game doesn’t give David Wagner’s men much confidence (D1, L3), although they do hold a solid home record vs Italian opposition (W3, L1). While Atalanta didn’t make their debut in Europe’s premier competition until 2018/19, they have progressed to the knockout stages in both of their prior group stage appearances. As such, the Bergamo-based outfit will want to make it three for three this time around and they will likely set up a straight shootout for qualification with Villarreal on the final day if they can win here. It’s been tough for Atalanta on their European travels this season, as they’ve failed to win both of their away group games this term despite scoring twice in both. However, this game is certainly the easiest on paper after travelling to Man United and Villarreal prior, so a callback to last season’s perfect away group return would be welcome here. Players to watch: With their league top scorer injured, Young Boys may rely on Jordan Siebatcheu for a goal here – but just three of his ten competitive strikes this term were match openers. Atalanta’s Duván Zapata has contributed to more goals in this UCL group (G1, A3) than Young Boys have scored altogether (three). Hot stat: Just four of the 32 UCL group sides have received fewer than Atalanta’s six yellow cards so far. Our prediction: Young Boys 0-2 Atalanta
Malmo FF vs Zenit
Rooted to the foot of Group H in this season’s UEFA Champions League (UCL), Swedish champions Malmö will need a drastic change of fortune to avoid finishing dead-last this time round. They’ve collected the wooden spoon in their previous two UCL group stage appearances, but managed to pick up a win in both those previous campaigns too. The Eleda Stadium has played host to both of Malmö’s prior UCL victories, with those results including their only clean sheets kept in the continent’s showpiece club competition. A rare feat indeed for ‘Di blåe’, who have lost all their other 14 UCL group games by an astonishing aggregate of 48-2. One of those heavy defeats came against Zenit Saint Petersburg, who registered their largest ever margin of victory in the UCL (excluding qualifiers) with their 4-0 trouncing of the hosts in the reverse fixture. A win here for Zenit would at least guarantee them entry into the preliminary knockout round of the UEFA Europa League, while keeping alive their slim hopes of snatching second place if results elsewhere also go their way. The Russian side are looking for a first victory on their UCL travels since securing back-to-back victories in the 2015/16 season, losing nine of their ten away games since. They’ll be favourites in their first-ever trip to Sweden, as the champions of the Russian Premier League battle it out with the champions of the Allsvenskan. Players to watch: Malmö’s Veljko Birmančević has scored his last five domestic goals in the first half. Albeit in qualifiers, two of Birmančević’s four UCL goals have proven decisive. Often key to the opposition’s best attacking moves, Artem Dzyuba has contributed seven goals in his last five appearances for Zenit (G5, A2). Hot stat: Zenit have seen nine of the 12 total goals scored in their UCL games this season come beyond half-time. Our prediction: Malmo FF 1-3 Zenit
14 days to go! The winners of the 2021 Ballon d’Or awards are set to be announced in November, with Lionel Messi bidding to win the men’s prize for a record-extending seventh time. Robert Lewandowski is his main rival, while Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr look to be the favourites for the women’s Ballon d’Or.
The 2021 men’s Ballon d’Or winner will be announced later this month with Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho the front-runners to win the award.
The ceremony was not held last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and it looks a close race to decide this year’s winner. The women’s Ballon d’Or will also be held for the third time, with Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr among the favourites.
Here’s all you need to know about the ceremony, the favourites, and how to follow…
WHEN IS THE 2021 BALLON D’OR CEREMONY?
The ceremony will take place in Paris on November 29, 2021.
The initial 30-player shortlist is assembled by an editorial team at France Football magazine. A jury of journalists representing a variety of nations then votes for the players they believe should come in first, second and third.
WHO HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR THE MEN’S AWARD?
Lionel Messi is the current holder of the trophy after being crowned the winner in 2019, and after a magnificent year where he played 48 games, scored 40 goals and led Argentina to their first Copa America title since 1993, his former team-mate Luis Suarez believes that the Paris-Saint Germain star is a no-brainer for the award.
“For the Ballon d’Or, you should not only have to look at what someone has done in a year, but you also have to look at how someone is as a player,” Suarez told Ole. “I believe that Messi has no rival.”
Messi won the player of the tournament as Argentina lifted the Copa America and he also led Barca to Copa del Rey success before leaving in the summer. Even though he has made a slow start at PSG, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes Messi has the all-around factors that makes him deserving of the award.
“I think Leo will win Ballon d’Or for sure,” he told Spanish broadcaster Ibai Llanos. “If it’s valuing trophies plus performance plus figures…The winner is also Leo. Leo should have won more than seven times.”
But Messi faces a strong rival in Robert Lewandowski.
Lewandowski scored 41 goals in 29 Bundesliga games last season to break Gerd Muller’s 49-year record. He also finished as the top scorer in Europe and broke a club record for scoring in 19 consecutive matches for Bayern Munich. “I can’t think of anyone else deserving the award like he does after he over the past years continuously delivered goals,” said Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Lewandowski’s goals helped Bayern win five trophies, while he has also netted nine goals in 11 appearances for Poland this year. “Collectively and individually I don’t think I could have done more,” he said.
If the award comes down to weight of trophies then Chelsea midfielder Jorginho also has a case.
The Italian was named the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for the 2020/2021 season after winning the Champions League and Euro 2020 within a few months of each other. While he doesn’t have the same goal stats as Messi and Lewandowski, Jorginho is hopeful that others factors will be taken into account in the voting.
“It’s not up to me to say if I should win the Ballon d’Or, but it would be an incentive for other players, to show that not only goals are taken into account.” Jorginho says that if he had a vote then it would go to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
“I believe I’d vote for Kevin De Bruyne for everything he’s been doing and for the beautiful football he’s been showing in recent years. For those who like football, it’s great to see him play because he understands football, he is a player with above-average intelligence.”
De Bruyne is behind the likes of Karim Benzema, Mohamed Salah and Gianluigi Donnarumma in the betting.
Full list of men’s nominees: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), Ruben Dias (Manchester City), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain), Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Jorginho (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Simon Kjaer (AC Milan), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Pedri (Barcelona), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
WHO IS THE NOMINATED FOR THE WOMEN’S AWARD?
Alexia Putellas is favourite to add the Ballon d’Or to her UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award. The Barcelona midfielder was key to her side’s treble-winning season, scoring in the Champions League final and netting twice in the Copa de la Reina final. Sam Kerr looks to be her main rival after a brilliant season for Chelsea that saw her win the Golden Boot in the Women’s Super League and fire her side to a league and cup double. She also impressed for Australia at the Olympics, scoring six goals in six games, and is one of five Chelsea players on the shortlist along with Denmark’s Pernille Harder, Sweden’s Magdalena Eriksson, Canada’s Jessie Fleming and England’s Fran Kirby.
Barcelona’s Jenni Hermoso is also in the running after continuing her superb goalscoring form, finishing as the top scorer in the league for the fifth time in six seasons. She also helped Barca win the Champions League with six goals in the tournament but missed the first two months of this season due to an ankle injury.
Full list of women’s nominees: Kadidiatou Diani (PSG), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jennifer Hermoso (Barcelona), Christiane Endler (Lyon), Christine Sinclair (Thorns FC), Ashley Lawrence (PSG), Irene Paredes (PSG, Barcelona), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Sandra Panos (Barcelona), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Ellen White (Manchester City), Pernille Harder (Chelsea), Sam Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG), Stina Blackstenius (Hacken), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea), Sam Kerr (Chelsea), Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
WHO ARE THE BOOKMAKERS’ FAVOURITE TO WIN?
Lionel Messi 1/2 Robert Lewandowski 3/1 Mohamed Salah 25/1 Jorginho 33/1 Karim Benzema 33/1 Gianluigi Donnarumma 66/1
Who do you think will win Ballon d’Or these two years? Leave your comment below and share your favourite!
The star forward has featured only intermittently for his new employers but it has been a different story on the international stage
It says something about the spell-binding appeal of Lionel Messi that even fans of Argentina’s biggest rivals are hoping he takes the field on Friday.
Despite complaints over the cost of tickets for the World Cup qualifier in Montevideo between Uruguay and the Albiceleste, Penarol’s Estadio Campeon del Siglo will likely be packed to the brim when the two sides walk out.
Indeed, no less a figure than Uruguayan FA chief Ignacio Alonso used the Paris Saint-Germain superstar as justification for the rather elevated prices, telling reporters in the build-up to the game: “They are normal for an important match with world-class players, and this could even be Lionel Messi’s last time playing in Uruguay.”
Whether or not Messi would even be available for Friday’s clash had been up in the air all week but it now seems that he will start against the Uruguayans and, if he remains unscathed, also on Tuesday, for Brazil’s visit to San Juan.
That is great news for his adoring public, not just in Argentina but across the entirety of the South American continent, but less so for PSG, who, with some justification, are beginning to feel short-changed.
Messi has made no secret of the fact that leading his national team to the World Cup in a year’s time is his top priority. According to reports he even has that condition written into his PSG contract, in a clause which states that the club must release him for any international game he wishes, regardless of the circumstance.
Since leaving Barcelona in August, the 34-year-old has racked up 450 minutes for Argentina in qualifying (not including that suspended clash against Brazil), compared to just 325 minutes in Ligue 1.
In that same period he netted four goals in international colours, while he is still waiting for his first strike in the French top flight.
Leo has delivered in the Champions League, hitting three times in as many outings as PSG sit on the verge of last-16 qualification, but he was forced to sit out their last clash with a knee injury and Argentina’s subsequent decision to call him up did not amuse anyone at Parc des Princes.
“We don’t agree with letting a player, who isn’t fit to play for us and is in recovery, join up with his national side,” PSG sporting director Leonardo told Le Parisien.
“It doesn’t make sense and this kind of situation needs to be discussed with FIFA.”
It is not a new topic of complaint for the Brazilian, who at the end of October said of Messi: “In these past two months he has spent more time with his national team than here.”
“I have a good relationship with Leonardo, because Walter [Samuel] was his team-mate and spoke to him recently,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni pointed out to reporters when asked of a possible rift with PSG this week.
“Their thing is understandable, because of what’s going on with the FIFA dates and the Copa America, for clubs there are a lot of trips with the national team and that is what is being discussed with FIFA.
“It is totally understandable from PSG, due to their calendar. But there is also no doubt that we are right to call him up and, if available, play him.”
For years clubs have enjoyed dominance over their international counterparts, withdrawing players at the slightest hint of injury and making clear that, as the ones who pay their wages, the clubs should enjoy a privileged position.
Messi thinks otherwise. At this point in his career he has nothing left to prove at club level, whereas the World Cup still looms as his white whale, the prize that has remained just out of reach.
Perhaps just as importantly, he seems happiest when around his Argentina colleagues, forming a stunning rapport with new faces like midfield general Rodrigo de Paul, which seems to have restored his love for the game.
Nobody, furthermore, can accuse the legendary No.10 of not deserving the odd break. In 2020-21, he played exactly 60 games between club and country – completing the 90 minutes in all but three – including that scintillating Copa America campaign, in which he played every single minute for his country.
That would be a heavy workload for any player, let alone a man who is looked to constantly as a match-winner, treated as such by opposing defenders and fouled more often than almost any other footballer on the planet.
That takes a huge physical toll, and yet year upon year Messi has continued to push himself to incredible extremes that defy all logic.
Now, it seems, it is time to take a breather. With 11 wins in 13 games and a 10-point lead PSG are not exactly missing his talents in Ligue 1, and even if he just uses the domestic game to keep sharp, Mauricio Pochettino’s men should by all rights win the title at a canter.
That leaves the Champions League and World Cup as the two crowns the Argentine must really work for, freed of the gruelling need to dig Barcelona out of a hole every week.
He should be in better shape than ever, both physically and psychologically, to do just that.
Seeing a player pick country over club might take some getting used to for PSG, then, but if they can accommodate their star and keep him content with this more limited, well-rested role then both they and Argentina are perfectly placed to reap the benefits, making everyone a winner.