Messi favorite for Ballon d’Or ahead of Lewandowski, Benzema
Paris, Nov 28 (EFE).- Lionel Messi is tipped to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or for a record-extending seventh time despite not being at his best this season, in a ceremony to be held in central Paris’ Châtelet theater on Monday.
The 34-year-old finally bagged a long-awaited international title with Argentina at the Copa America 2021, led Barcelona to the Spanish Cup title and was LaLiga’s top scorer.
But his departure to Paris Saint Germain proved to be a turning point — he has yet to live up to the hype that surrounded the move to the Qatari-owned French club.
Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema are his main challengers, rather than Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been Messi’s perennial rival for the individual prize.
But Lewandowski, 33, has fewer titles to boast of, as he only won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, while Poland did not make it past the Group Stage at Euro 2020.
On the other hand, his killer instinct earned him the 2020-2021 European Golden Shoe for the top scorer of Europe’s big leagues, after he scored 41 goals.
The collective rewards are also the weak point of the candidacy of Benzema, who did not hoist a title with his team or with the French national team, which overshadows the great individual season he had.
However, if collective titles were the only criteria to award the Ballon d’Or, the winner would be Jorginho, the only nominee who won both the Champions League, with Chelsea, and Euro 2020 with Italy.
Men’s Ballon d’Or will not be the only to be announced on Monday, as the France Football magazine, which created the prize in 1956, will choose the best female player for the second time in its history.
The favorites are four Barcelona candidates; Spain’s Alexia Putellas, Sandra Paños and Jennifer Hermoso and the Netherlands’ Lieke Martens, who won the local and the Champions Leagues.
Ten players compete for the Kopa award for the best U-21 players, including Barcelona’s rising star Pedri, already named Golden Boy by the Italian magazine Tuttosport.