The delivery of the Ballon d’Or 2021 approaches, the ceremony will be staged Monday 29 November at the Theater du Chatelet in Paris, and after a year of absolute break for Covid-19, without therefore the awarding of the award for 2020, the wait is even higher than usual. The individual performance of candidates, the exploits of Italy e Argentina between the Europeans and the America’s Cup, a Chelsea on the top of Europe: all factors that in some way will direct the results, favoring or disadvantaging one candidate over the other.
After all, it is evident how thebalance between the various criteria considered (individual and team performances, talent and sportsmanship of the player, the player’s career) may prove to be precarious, as the blanket may be too short: rewarding the class and talent of the individual risks keeping out the overall impact on a club or on a national team, validating the results on the contrary could obscure the right space for the absolute value of the player; the final choice, also for this reason, often turns out to be controversial and not unanimously welcomed.
So let’s see, considering i 10 main candidates for ultimate success, what the points in favor and those, however, unfavorable in the global calculation:
It’s hard to imagine “cons” when it comes to imagining Leo messi awarded the Ballon d’Or: a possible utopian brake could derive from the presence of 6 awards already obtained in this sense, with the necessary consequent desire to leave glory to others.
Nothing grounded, however, nothing that is likely to translate into reality: there is no doubt about the absolute value of the player, much less there are about the performance in the 2020/21 season (38 goals and 18 assists in 48 games overall). To season it all emerges, and it is no small matter, the much desired success with his Argentina in the America’s Cup (4 goals and 5 assists with Albiceleste in the competition).
A potential sour note to consider are the results obtained by the Barcelona: the victory in the King’s Cup does not in fact compensate for the third place in the Liga and the elimination from the Champions League in the round of 16 (with a lot of 1-4 at home with PSG).
What could stand between Robert Lewandowski and winning a Ballon d’Or? Probably, as indeed has happened, only a pandemic such as to cancel the premium for a year.
The decision not to award the prize in 2020 snatched a sacrosanct statement from the Pole’s hands and it cannot be ruled out that the satisfaction was only postponed: in 2020/21 the striker collected 41 goals in the Bundesliga alone, seasoned with 11 assists, while in the Champions League he scored “just” 5 goals out of 6 games played (however, he went out in the quarterfinals).
On a team level, with his own Bayern, won the Bundesliga, the Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the German Cup. The decline in the Champions League compared to the incredible 2019/20 (edition in which he scored 15 goals) could represent a “against” to deal with, as well as a disappointing European team.
Never as in the case of Jorginho it is necessary to consider the devastating impact on the club team and on its national team: it proved to be a fundamental cog for both Chelsea by Tuchel, capable of winning the Champions League, which in‘Italy of Mancini that we have seen accomplished at Wembley.
Metronome, point of reference and man of order in the middle of the field, all seasoned with heavy goals on a penalty (cross and delight for the former Verona, focusing only on current events). If the criterion evaluated with greater strength were therefore the trophies obtained by his teams, let’s add the UEFA Super Cup won on 11 August, there would be no story.
However, there are factors that clearly penalize the director and it is evident how his fame, especially in certain football latitudes less sensitive to what happens in Europe in a single season, is lower than other candidates in the dance. At the same time, it is evident that, even in terms of absolute value and career, it lags behind its rivals: it will essentially be all a question of balance between the criteria.
A player who has often experienced the paradox of being undervalued in the eyes of someone or excessively considered for others, a contradictory situation that is perhaps also linked to his past with CR7 in the (almost surreal, considering the qualities) role of his shoulder.
The numbers speak for themselves and in 2020/21 they say 30 goals and 12 assists overall with the shirt of Real Madrid, as well as an important return to the national team: France has returned to focus on him, after the well-known scandal that saw him as a protagonist, and Benzema repaid with 4 goals in 4 games a Euro 2020.
The elimination in the round of 16 from Euro 2020 at the hands of Switzerland, however, together with theabsence of trophies raised with Real Madrid, represent side effects to consider. What is certain is that, also considering the player’s career and his ability to improve over time, it becomes logical that he is fully in the running for at least a place on the podium.
As in the case of Jorginho it is a protagonist of the affirmation of Chelsea in Champions League, a player who saw in the conquest of the main trophy in Europe a sort of fulfillment of his incredible ascendant, which had already begun with the Leicester miracle.
A concentration of endurance, generosity and tactical acumen in both phases that every coach would want in the team, qualities that give the impression of being inexhaustible throughout the course of a match.
A certainly atypical candidate for the Ballon d’Or, also considering the not exactly histrionic character off the pitch and the low profile: there is no shortage of fans of an affirmation for Kanté, on an individual level, and if only Euro 2020 had given different results to France the idea would not be so far-fetched.
We know how complex (utopian) it can be to establish themselves in the Golden Ball for an extreme defender: Khan and Buffon managed to get on the podium, the last to do so was Neuer, but after Yashin no one managed to win.
This is the main “against” when thinking about a Golden Ball in the hands of Donnarumma: the arguments in favor, moreover, would be evident and would bind to the European Championship as an absolute protagonist, so much so as to play a fundamental role in Italy’s success.
The penalties saved in the most decisive moments, including that of Saka for the victory at Wembley, have an incalculable weight and have led to the election of Donnarumma as “best player of Euro 2020“.
Cristiano Ronaldo, more than anyone else, is the victim of a somewhat curious paradox: always being at the top and even ending up being perceived as problematic, as too centralizing, within a team.
With 5 statements already on the bulletin board in the Golden Ball it may surprise, this time, to see him far from the very first places, even considering the numbers themselves, but the season of you and the European of Portugal (eliminated in the round of 16) do not give a great hand in this regard.
However, it remains clear how 36 goals in 45 games and 5 goals at Euro 2020, in 4 games played, make it mandatory to take it into consideration anyway and continue to point out, rightly, what a perfect car it is.
Strong of his 22 years of age, it is evident that other opportunities will abound in the future to play for the Ballon d’Or and to win it, the time has not yet arrived despite absolutely impressive numbers.
In the 2020/21 season, in fact, Mbappé scored something like 42 overall goals with PSG, in 49 games, adding to these also 13 assists for his teammates. Even considering the Champions League alone (8 goals, 6 between round of 16 and quarter-final), the contribution of the ’98 class to PSG reaching the semifinal is evident.
However, the French club had to settle for just the French Cup and the Blues, at Euro 2020, they suffered the elimination at the hands of Switzerland in the round of 16: these are the reasons why there will probably still be a wait.
Another player who does not lack supporters, with a general and deserved appreciation from colleagues (Jorginho above all) and insiders, is the Belgian de Bruyne.
Considering his quality and his unique way of interpreting the prototype of the modern midfielder, the pros appear evident and corroborated by the same numbers: 10 goals and 18 assists in 40 appearances, titolo in Premier League e final in the Champions League with his City. In the previous season he had even done better on an individual level, especially given the incredible number of assists (24) provided to his teammates.
The elimination of the Belgium to the quarterfinals of Euro 2020 and less continuity compared to the previous season, thanks to injuries, make the claim in this Golden Ball appear less likely than it could have been in the 2020 edition (later canceled).
Just like Mbappé we are talking about a sure protagonist of the Golden Ball of the future, probably ready to play the role of best with the Frenchman or in any case to alternate on the podium with other champions.
The impact of Haaland on the world of football is there for all to see and also in this case the numbers speak clearly: we are talking about a class of 2000 who in the 2020/21 season scored 41 goals in 41 matches between the various competitions with Borussia Dortmund, with a privileged relationship with the Champions League (10 goals in 8 games) which had already appeared evident (and precocious) in Salzburg.
The future is on his side and it is clear that the point is not whether he will ever win the Ballon d’Or but simply when he will do it and for how many times: it is just a matter of waiting and discovering, among other things, where he will win. will develop his career after Dortmund.
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