A Guide To The 2021 Ballon d'Or Shortlist
The prize is seen as one of the most prestigious in world football - but who will win?
The battle for the title of world's best footballer is here once again. The winner of the Men's Ballon d'Or is set to be decided November 29th.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have won 11 of the last 12 awards between them. Luka Modric the only other winner, in 2018, during that time.
All three are on the shortlist again, but there may be a dark horse out there.
Here's who's on the list:
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta is one of the more surprising names on the shortlist. The 32-year-old helped Chelsea to win the Champions League last season and reached the Nations League final with Spain.
Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)
Missing just two games all season, Nicolo Barella became a Serie A winner with Inter Milan and a Euro 2020 champion with Italy.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The 33-year-old scored 30 goals in 46 games in all competitions for Real Madrid and finished second in the La Liga Golden Boot race to Lionel Messi. He also won the Nations League with France after being left out of the squad for six years.
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
Bonucci scored the equalizer in the Euro 2020 final against England, and scored again in the 3-2 shootout win.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Kevin de Bruyne's season was plagued with injury at Manchester City. He still scored six Premier League goals in their title winning season. He also played in the Champions League final and for Belgium at Euro 2020.
Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Chiellini captained Italy to Euro 2020 glory, beating England in the final.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Another record breaking year for Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored 36 goals in all competitions for Juventus last season, becoming the first player to score at least 20 goals in 12 consecutive seasons in Europe's top five leagues. For Portugal, Ronaldo became the first player to score at five Euros finals, finishing the 2020 tournament as top scorer with five goals - moving him five clear of Michel Platini as the all-time leading scorer in European Championship history.
Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
The Man City defender was named men's footballer of the year by the Football Writers' Association, the first defender to do so for 32 years.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
The only goalkeeper to be nominated. He was named Uefa's player of the tournament for Euro 2020, becoming only the second keeper to win the award, after Peter Schmeichel in 1992.
Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Fernandes had early success at Manchester United, scoring 28 goals in 58 games. He scored in the Europa League final penalty shootout when United lost to Villareal.
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
The English midfielder scored16 times as City won the Premier League and reached the Champions League final - before going to the Euro 2020 final with England.
Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Scoring 41 goals in as many games for Borussia Dortmund, Erling Haaland is expected to be on many Ballon d'Or shortlists in the future. He won his first trophy since joining the club, scoring twice in the German Cup final against RB Leipzig.
Named UEFA men's player of the year, Jorginho helped Chelsea beat Manchester City to win the Champions League, before winning the European Championship with Italy.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Before a summer transfer debacle, Harry Kane captained England to the Euro 2020 final and scored 23 league goals for Spurs, winning his third Premier League Golden Boot.
N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
The France international finished third in the Uefa Men's Player of the Year award and won a Champions League.
Simon Kjaer (AC Milan)
Kjaer and the medical team that saved Christian Eriksen's life at Euro 2020 were the recipients of this year's Uefa President's Award.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
One of the favorites to knock Ronaldo and Messi off their top spot - Robert Lewandowski scored a ridiculous 41 Bundesliga goals. As well as winning the title with Bayern Munich, Lewandowski won the European Golden Shoe, and broke Gerd Muller's 49-year record of Bundesliga goals in a campaign. He also scored 9 goals in 11 appearances for Poland last season, and became the first Polish player to score in three consecutive European Championships.
Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
The prolific striker won his first trophy in over a decade by leading Inter Milan to a Serie A title. He finished second in the Golden Boot race with 24 goals - and was named Serie A's Most Valuable Player.
Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
Mahrez scored 14 goals last season as Manchester City won the Premier League and Carabao Cup.
Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)
Martinez won the first two trophies of his career last season - Serie A with Inter Milan and the Copa America with Argentina.
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Much like Erling Haaland, Mbappe is sure to be on these shortlists for years to come. He won his third consecutive Ligue 1 Golden Boot with 27 goals - and hit eight goals in 10 Champions League games. Mbappe then scored the winner in the Nations League final in October as France beat Spain.
Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
Looking for Ballon d'Or number 7, Messi broke Pele's record of the most goals for one club. He became the first player in history to score at least 20 goals in 13 consecutive seasons in Europe's top five leagues. He also broke Gerd Muller's record of scoring 30 plus goals in 12 consecutive club seasons, as well as surpassing Xavi's record for most Barca appearances. To top it off, he finally ended his wait for a first major international title as Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America final.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Without winning a trophy, it will be hard for the 2018 winner to reclaim the top spot. Last season Modric netted five league goals for Real Madrid - his best total since leaving Croatia in 2008.
Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
Moreno was named the Europa League player of the season, winning his first trophy with Villarreal. He scored 23 goals in La Liga - only behind Lionel Messi.
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
The attacking midfielder was a key part of Thomas "Two Chains" Tuchel's Chelsea team who won the Champions League. He played five times for England at Euro 2020 as they reached the final.
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
Neymar has finished third in the Ballon d'Or twice before - in 2015 and 2017. He scored 17 goals for PSG in an injury-hit campaign last season. His only trophy was the French Cup - and he lost the Copa America final with Brazil.
The 18-year-old has a lot of energy. He played 73 games for Barcelona and Spain last season. During that stint, the midfielder helped Barca win the Copa del Rey.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Salah's 31 goals in 51 games last season in Liverpool's disappointing trophyless campaign may not be enough to lift him to the title of best Men's footballer. If only he could include some of the goals he's scored this season.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Essentially carried England through to the Euro final with Italy - scoring three goals along the way. Raheem Sterling also scored 14 times in 49 games for Manchester City last season, winning the Premier League, Carabao Cup - and reaching the final of the Champions League.
Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
Basically forced out by Barcelona at the end of 2019-20, Suarez joined Atletico Madrid, and helped them win La Liga. The 34-year-old scored 21 goals in 32 appearances.