Ballon d’Or 2021: What are the favorites?

When Euro 2020 and the Copa America are over, we now know which players are in a realistic cry to lift the Ballon d’Or later this year.

There are plenty of stars who hope to get some good votes after strong seasons, but there are already a few who come from the hunting package as undisputed favorites to take home the biggest individual prize in football.

Here is a ranked decline of the most likely winners as it looks.

Neymar is unlikely to be on the move / John Berry / Getty Images

Some excellent performances at the Copa America have withdrawn Neymar’s name to this conversation.

But he will need a much better start to this season with PSG than last year, when injuries prevented him from reaching his best.

There may simply be too much ground to compensate, and a first top five finish since 2017 could be a more realistic goal now.

Chiesa has increased his chances / Nicolò Campo / Getty Images

Federico Chiesa really shone towards the end of Euro 2020, and now there are more eyes on him than ever before. Gianluigi Donnarumma may have picked up the Euro player in the tournament, but when it came to strikers, no one was more important to Azzurri than Chiesa.

If he can take the next step with Juventus, for which he scored nine goals and nine assists last year, he will be right in the mix for the Ballon d’Or when the time comes.

Sterling was excellent at Euro 2020 / Susan Vera – Pool / Getty Images

A regular part of the Manchester City side that roared to Premier League glory (although it was not his best season individually), Raheem Sterling’s share rose to a new level with some inspiring performances at Euro 2020.

He was England’s hero when he led the three Lions to the final and could easily climb up the table if he can carry that form to club level 2021/22.

Haaland’s scoring makes him a challenger / Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

When you score as many goals as Erling Haaland does, you must be one of the forerunners of the Ballon d’Or.

The main problem for Haaland is the lack of cutlery with club or country. But if he can turn his club into title favorites in the next six months, he has a chance to beat at least the top ten.

Benzema wore Real Madrid for several months / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images

Karim Benzema has sometimes taken Real Madrid on his own and has produced some of the best footballs in his career in recent seasons.

A great performance at Euro 2020 when he returned to the France team would have helped his goal infinitely, but what we actually got may actually have had the opposite effect.

While his individual performances were strong, France’s early exit – combined with Madrid’s own mediocrity – means Benz at best a long shot.

Donnarumma was brilliant at Euro 2020 / Carl Recine – Pool / Getty Images

The Euro 2020 tournament player, Gianluigi Donnarumma will be a favorite among many voters.

Now at PSG, the Italian goalkeeper is expected to compete for cutlery again this season, and performing on a larger platform may be what the 22-year-old needs to win another individual prize.

No goalkeeper has won the award since Lev Yashin in 1963. The fact that there is now a separate Yashin trophy for goalkeepers (also awarded by France Football) significantly reduces his Donnarumma’s chances in the main category.

Mbappe’s wait can continue / John Berry / Getty Images

After coming short in Ligue 1, Champions League and Euro, Kylian Mbappe will need something special if he is to win his first Ballon d’Or this year.

It’s no secret that he is one of the best players on the planet, but without these trophies it is difficult to see Mbappe raise the prize.

He has not finished outside the top seven, since he burst into the season back in the 2016/17 season.

Ronaldo’s chances of winning seem slim / Marco Canoniero / Getty Images

Despite all the speculation about his future, Cristiano Ronaldo has remained as cold and calculated in front of goal as ever.

The winner of the Euro 2020 Golden Boot has the statistics and individual awards needed to win the Ballon d’Or, but overwhelming performances from both Juventus and Portugal will weigh him down.

Kane had an excellent individual season / Visionhaus / Getty Images

2020/21 was without a doubt Harry Kane’s most impressive season at the individual level. The Premier League top scorer scored 33 goals and 17 assists in 49 games and then scored four goals on the way to the final of Euro 2020.

You can not ignore these numbers, but you can also not ignore the fact that England came short in the euro and Tottenham finished the season in seventh place.

He can break the top ten, or even five, but the top prize seems unlikely for Kane.

De Bruyne could have done with Euro 2020 success / David Ramos / Getty Images

Seen by most as the best creative midfielder on the planet, Kevin De Bruyne was inspiring when Manchester City won the Premier League and reached the final of the Champions League.

The fact that he won this year’s PFA player shows that he is great, but unfortunately for De Bruyne, there are some players who are making a little more noise right now.

Lukaku was dominant with Inter / Marco Luzzani / Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku finished Juventus’ dominance in Serie A with 30 goals and ten assists in all competitions, but you get the feeling that he needed to win Euro 2020 with Belgium to be on a real shot to win the Ballon d’Or.

If he continues to score at a steady pace and the Red Devils can win the Nations League in October, Lukaku’s chances of winning can get a real boost.

Kante would be a popular winner / MB Media / Getty Images

When you are named Man of the Match for both legs in the Champions League semi-final and final, you have a good shout out to win the Ballon d’Or.

N’Golo Kante has proven his greatness on the biggest stage, but without the Euro 2020 trophy to add to his cabinet, Kantes can wait for the ultimate glory to continue.

Jorginho has the trophies to make a case / Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Unlike Kante, Jorginho finally won Euro 2020 and played a major role in Italy’s quest for continental dominance.

When you add that to his Champions League triumph with Chelsea, you see why Jorginho is seen by many as one of the favorites to take home the award.

He may not be the best football player in terms of talent, but few (if any) have had a better year.

Lewandowski deserved to win 2020 / Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

The deserved winner from 2020, it would be nice to see Robert Lewandowski’s success from last year acknowledged, but he may well end up with this year’s trophy to wipe away the tears.

The best striker on the planet for a while now, Lewandowski has dominated the Bundesliga and performed at a level higher than almost anyone else on the planet.

Messi is the heavy favorite / Soccrates Images / Getty Images

The leading challenger to take home his seventh Ballon d’Or is Lionel Messi, who has been on a whole new level in 2021.

He pulled Barcelona back to the La Liga title race and put up some incredible numbers during the process – he finished 2020/21 with 38 goals and 14 assists – and finally finished his international hoodoo with Argentina at the Copa America. It takes something special to beat Messi off this perch.

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