Who is going to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or?

Competition for the world’s biggest individual football award opens up
Photo: AFP

Football is a game that has captured the imaginations of millions around the globe. Elite footballers dazzle fans with their tricks, flairs and skills leading their teams to glory. France Football Magazine has made sure that their efforts don't go unrecognised by awarding the Ballon d'Or to the best performers every season. 

In the past, the competition for the Ballon d'Or was very intense, with fans torn over who should win the prize every year. The mid-90s to 2007 era was especially competitive, with fanbases embroiled in the 'who should win' debate among the likes of Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario, Ronaldinho, Henry, Nedved, Shevchenko, and Beckham among others. 

After 2007 though, the competition dried up, with Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo making the prize a sort of their own shared property. Only Luka Modric was able to break their run in 2018, but the last decade undoubtedly belonged to the two greats. 

But the GOATs' are humans too, and their dominance is slowly nearing its denouement. With an era coming to an end, it is a sign that things are coming back to the norm, with other performers getting the recognition they deserve.

This year's edition is a perfect example in that regard. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was the standard-bearer of elite footballers for such a long time, is not even in the conversation for this year's prize. Many credible names have dominated the fans' debates over the intervening months, ranging from the likes of Kante and Jorginho to Benzema and Lewandowski. Leo Messi is still in the mix and the favourite to win it on the 29th, but this year, the competition is more fierce than seen in over a decade. 

This represents a welcome change from the predictability of the previous decade when only Messi and Ronaldo dominated the agenda. It now means the erstwhile 'underrated' players can get the respect they deserve. There are a lot of examples of this kind of scenario over the last decade where a player, despite performing at an elite level, still got swamped by the GOATs' superhuman levels and failed to clinch the Ballon d'Or.  Benzema and Lewandowski are prime examples in that regard. 

These two forwards had maintained an elite performance level over the last decade, coming good for their team with goals and assists in crunch moments. However, such was the Messi-Ronaldo dominance that only now is that they are getting recognition at a wider scale.

Things like this would give the players that extra oomph required to perform at their optimum. They would undoubtedly be emboldened by the waning influence of Messi and Ronaldo, which gives them the boost to make the Ballon d'Or their own. 

This, however, doesn't mean that players were unprofessional over the last decade. It only means one vital thing – with competition for Ballon d'Or wide open, the players strive for perfection and realise every last bit of their potential to win this prestigious award. 

This bodes well for the Ballon d'Or's future. With an intriguing balance of power, fans would get more interested about the prize and play a more active role in the outcome. Add to that the world-class performances on the pitch, it demonstrates a bright future for the beautiful game too, where young players get extra determination to emulate and even surpass their footballing heroes.

Inqiad Bin Ali is intrigued by the current balance of power in the Ballon d'Or. Ask him all things football and have a good chat at [email protected]


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