The awarding of the Ballon d'Or was cancelled in 2020 and the world's best footballers are once again making their cases to claim the desirable individual honour.
After it was cancelled in 2020, the Ballon d'Or is back, with the excellent and best of the football world again eyeing the greatest individual honour the game has to offer.
The shortlist for the 2021 prize has now been revealed, with 29 football players joining 2019 winner Lionel Messi as contenders to claim the reward.
So, by utilizing the efficiencies of the competitors up until now, in addition to predictions of what is likely still to come in 2021, who holds the most power in this year's race?
20.Lautaro Martinez (Inter).
Last time: 20th.
In 2021: 22 goals, 6 assists. Won Copa America and Serie A.
Lautaro commemorated his Ballon d'Or election with a goal and an assist playing for Argentina in their World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay, and while he will not be among the leading contenders in this year's race, You can't rule out the 24-year-old challenging for the award over the next 5 or 6 years.
19.Phil Foden (Manchester City).
Last time: NEW ENTRY.
In 2021: 13 goals, 10 assists. Won Premier League and Carabao Cup.
He may have missed the opening weeks of the season, but Foden has actually squandered little time in reminding everybody simply how talented he is with his performances for club and country.
Not having much playing time in the Euro 2020 all but ended his Ballon d'Or hopes, however it was good to see him make the 30-man shortlist.
18.Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).
Last time: 18th.
In 2021: 26 goals, five assists.
While the very first half of 2021 did not cause numerous vintage Salah performances, the Egypt star is definitely ensuring he leaves his mark on the year prior to all is stated and done.
There is perhaps no more in-form footballer in Europe right now than the Liverpool forward, with his current goal against Manchester City likely to give him a chance at winning a second Puskas Award at some point.
Salah's absence of trophies and frustrating showings at the start of the year imply he will not challenge for this year's Ballon d'Or, however bring this type of form into 2022 and he could be a genuine contender in 12 months' time.
17.Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain).
Last time: 17th.
In 2021: 14 goals, 14 assists. Won Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions.
Bringing all the excitement that developed around Neymar reuniting with his great friend Lionel Messi at PSG this year, the Brazilian has actually struggled to hit the ground running in 2021-22, contributing simply a single goal - a penalty - in Ligue 1 so far this season.
16.Harry Kane (Tottenham).
Last time: 16th.
In 2021: 32 goals, 5 helps.
Kane's hangover from a summer season of firing England team to the Euro 2020 finals and speculation over his future continues to obstruct his game, with the Spurs star still yet to find a goal in the Premier League this season.
15.Mason Mount (Chelsea).
Last time: 15th.
In 2021: Nine goals, 7 assists. Won Champions League and UEFA Super Cup.
Mount's big importance to Chelsea was just seen by their struggles in his absence versus Manchester City and Juventus, and given his all trophy-winning exploits from last season, he is now well-placed to be the highest-ranked member in Gareth Southgate's squad this year on Ballon d'Or list.
14.Nicolo Barella (Inter).
Last time: 14th.
In 2021: Six goals, 13 assists. Won Euro 2020 and Serie A.
This might be a bit high for a player in Barella, who is practically universally underrated outside of keen Serie A fans, but the Inter midfielder continues to emerge as among the best in his position anywhere in the world at San Siro.
Though he was unable to help Itay include the Nations League title to their European Championship, the 24-year-old was on target in the Azzurri's third-place play-off win over Belgium.
13.Ruben Dias (Manchester City).
Last time: 13th.
In 2021: 1 goal, 2 assists, 25 clean sheets. Won Premier League and Carabao Cup.
It states a great deal of Dias' rise that a signing that an entire host of notified onlookers were not so sure about just recently captained Manchester City away at Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool.
Clearly the Portuguese is as great a leader as he is a defender.
12.Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus).
Last time: 12th.
In 2021: Two assists, 9 clean sheets. Won Euro 2020, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.
Italy's inspirational leader at Euro 2020 might not constantly have actually been a starter for Juventus over the past 12 months, but expect a lot of Ballon d'Or voters to put stock into his efficiencies over the summertime when they have their say in the coming weeks.
11.Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain).
Last time: 11th.
In 2021: 20 clean sheets. Won Euro 2020.
Donnarumma might not be starting every game for PSG nowdays, however his performance versus Man City in the Champions League served as a pointer of simply how close the Italy shot-stopper is to becoming the best goalkeeper in world football.
10.Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City).
Last time: 10th.
In 2021: 12 goals, 14 assists. Won Premier League and Carabao Cup.
One goal and 3 assists in his last 3 games for club and country suggest De Bruyne is alleviating his method into the season nicely, though the Belgium star remains short of his absolute finest as he intends to get rid of the injury issues that have actually afflicted him in the second half of 2021.
9.Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).
Last time: 9th.
In 2021: 35 goals, 4 assists. Won Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.
Goals versus Qatar in friendly and a hat-trick against Luxembourg matches are not what Ballons d'Or are made of, but they certainly help when you are aiming to set an unassailable marker as the best men's international goalscorer of all time in the whole world.
8.Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund).
Last time: 8th.
In 2021: 41 goals, 13 assists. Won DFB-Pokal.
Injuries have actually stopped Haaland's progress after his hot start to the season, and Dortmund will hope that the Norwegian is not missing out on for too much time as they aim to chase for the title in the Bundesliga.
7.Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea).
Last time: 5th.
In 2021: 30 goals, Eight assists. Won Serie A.
Any sticking hopes Lukaku had of winning the Ballon d'Or have actually now gone due to his excellent start to life back at Chelsea slowed in current weeks and Belgium lost out in the semi-finals of the Nations League.
That stated, the striker has actually enjoyed the best year of his profession to date.
6.Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain).
Last time: 7th.
In 2021: 35 goals, 14 assists. Won UEFA Nations League, Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions.
Mbappe has reminded the world of the levels he can reach with his Nations League heroics, as the French star both scored and provided an assist in each of Les Bleus' 2 wins on their road to raising as trophy winners in Italy.
Lifting that trophy, nevertheless, is not likely to raise him into real Ballon d'Or contention this year, but will set him up perfectly to make a sustained run in 2022.
5.Karim Benzema (Real Madrid).
Last time: 6th.
In 2021: 34 goals, 13 assists. Won UEFA Nations League.
Together with Salah, there is probably not a more in-form footballer in world football right now than Benzema, whose supreme curled finish in the Nations League final highlighted the confidence he is now playing with.
A vocal minority continue to press his Ballon d'Or case, however in spite of ensuring he ends the year with a team trophy, individual honours look set to remain just out of reach per now.
4.N'Golo Kante (Chelsea).
Last time: 4th.
In 2021: One goal, one assist. Won Champions League and UEFA Super Cup.
Kante's injury problems are becoming something of an issue, with the French midfielder having actually been hampered by physical fitness concerns ever since the Europa League final of 2019.
When he is on the football pitch, however, he remains an oustanding performer.
Last time: 3rd.
In 2021: Five goals, two assists. Won Euro 2020, Champions League and UEFA Super Cup.
Jorginho might not have actually added the Nations League trophy to the Euro 2020 and Champions League winners' medals he currently owns from this year, but he still looks well set for a podium final in this year's Ballon d'Or race.
It may not be a popular decision if he positions in the top 3, however voters put more stock in silverwares than perhaps they should.
2.Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich).
Last time: 2nd.
In 2021: 50 goals, 8 assists. Won Bundesliga, Club World Cup and DFL-Supercup.
Reports recently claimed that the 2020 Ballon d'Or will, in fact, be awarded to Lewandowski at this year's event after it was initially cancelled because of the pandemic.
If that shows to be the case, then it will be simply reward for the Bayern star after the very best 2 years of his career.
1.Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain).
Last time: 1st.
In 2021: 38 goals, 14 assists. Won Copa America and Copa del Rey.
If there were any doubts over whether Messi's sluggish start to life at PSG might impact his Ballon d'Or chances, he ensured to shut them down with his outrageous effort against Man City prior to the international break.
Making such a moment in such an attractive Champions League game will, in all likelihood, ensure a seventh reward for the legendary Argentine come December this year.
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