Lionel Messi is bidding for a record-extending seventh men’s Ballon d’Or title and will have to beat competition from Cristiano Ronaldo after the pair were named among the 30 nominees for the 2021 award.
Sam Mewis is the only United States women’s national team player to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or Feminin, while Canada’s Olympic gold-medal-winning team have three players (Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence and Christine Sinclair) on the 20-person shortlist.
Messi’s tally of six awards is more than any other player, with Ronaldo (five) the only other player to have won more than three.
Earlier this year, Messi won his first international honour as he led Argentina to a Copa America triumph in Brazil.
Among Messi’s biggest rivals is Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski, who broke Gerd Muller’s single-season Bundesliga goal-scoring record with 41 goals in the 2020-21 campaign.
The 2021 European Golden Shoe winner was the leading candidate for the Ballon d’Or in 2020 when he spearheaded Bayern’s Treble success, but the award was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chelsea midfielder Jorginho is another contender, as he played a key role in his side’s Champions League triumph as well as Italy’s victory at Euro 2020.
Champions League finalists Chelsea and Barcelona lead the nominations for the women’s award with five each. Barcelona, who won the Treble last season, are represented by Alexia Putellas, Sandra Panos, Lieke Martens, Irene Paredes and Jennifer Hermoso.
Magdalena Eriksson, Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder, Fleming and Fran Kirby are nominated for 2020-21 Women’s Super League winners Chelsea.
England leads the way in nominations for the Kopa Trophy, which celebrates the best men’s players who are under 21, with Bukayo Saka, Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham nominated.
USMNT and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gio Reyna was also nominated, as was Spain’s Pedri
The Ballon d’Or is a yearly award presided over by France Football. The men’s award was first handed out in 1956 to England’s Stanley Matthews, and the Ballon d’Or Feminin started in 2018, with Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg the inaugural winner.
It runs parallel with FIFA’s The Best award, which started in 2016, carrying on from the FIFA World Player of the Year, which stopped in 2009, as the honours merged for six years to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Since 2008, either Messi or Ronaldo has won the men’s award in every season apart from 2018, when it was awarded to Luka Modric. Last year was the first one since its inception when there was no winner.
Kevin De Bruyne
Ballon d’Or Feminin
Yachine Trophy (best goalkeeper)