Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time on Monday 29 November 2021, however the night also belonged to Alexia Putellas who won the Women’s Ballon d’Or; PSG’s Gianluigi Donnarumma who took home the Yashin Trophy; Pedri who won the Kopa Trophy and Robert Lewandowski who was awarded Striker of the Year. Chelsea FC won Club of the year.
Apart from Luka Modric’s win in 2018, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the awards since 2007 and while it seemed almost inevitable that if Messi’s name is on the cards he would win, the performances of his fellow contenders this season would have given reason to believe that someone else’s name should have been on the golden football.
The 34-year-old - who has a whorescored.com player rating of 7.34 - has helped his country to win the Copa America which is the striker’s first international honour and he has also scored a total of 40 goals in 2021 so far. 28 of these goals were while the Argentinian was still playing for Barcelona, eight of these for his country and only four for PSG.
Messi’s start for PSG has not been as explosive as his club or his fans had been anticipating and it is clear that his seventh Ballon d’Or was awarded thanks to his efforts for his Country and previous club.
The other four names in the final five were Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante in fifth, Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema in fourth; Chelsea’s Jorginho in fourth and Lewandowski in second.
Where did the other contenders end up and what are their player ratings?
29. Luka Modric - 7.19
The Real Madrid and Croatian midfielder won the award in 2018. Modric has scored four goals this year for both Croatia and Madrid but has had an extraordinary pass percentage success of 89.2%
29. Cesar Azpilicueta - 6.90
In August of 2021, Azpilicueta became the fourth Chelsea player to reach 300 Premier League appearances after John Terry (492), Frank Lampard (429) and Petr Cech (333).
26. Nicolo Barella - 6.99
Inter Milan’s Barella has made 50 appearances for his club with four goals to his name and has recently signed an extension to his contract which should see him at the club until 2026.
26. Ruben Dias - 6.87
Manchester City’s Dias has been in rotation with his fellow centre backs John Stones and Aymeric Laporte with all three having five starts in the past 10 games. He has enjoyed an incredible pass percentage of 92.1% in 2021 for both Man City and Portugal.
26. Gerard Moreno - 6.89
The 29-year-old Villarreal midfielder joined Barella and Dias in the 26th spot on the Ballon d’Or list. He has five goals to his name in 2021 as well as four assists. During Villarreal’s UEFA Super Cup match against Chelsea, Moreno surpassed Giuseppe Rossi to become the club’s all-time leading goal scorer with 83 goals.
25. Phil Foden - 7.30
Manchester City’s Foden has been enjoying much more play time with England this year, contributing significantly to their Euros 2020 success as well as helping them achieve an unbeaten record in their qualification group stage for next year’s World Cup.
24 Pedri - 6.66
While Pedri only landed at number 26 on the senior Ballon d’Or list, the Barcelona midfielder won the Kopa Trophy. He has a pass percentage of 90.9% and has been an integral cog in Barcelona’s successful machine in 2021 as well as starring at the 2020 Euros, winning the Young Player of the Euros award.
23. Harry Kane - 7.25
England Captain Harry Kane has recently reached third on England’s all-time leading goal scorers, one goal behind Bobby Charlton and just five goals away from Wayne Rooney’s 53 goal record.
He has led his team to the semi finals of the Euros 2020 as well as through to the Qatar World Cup in an unbeaten qualifying campaign.
21. Bruno Fernandes - 7.10
In Manchester United’s opening match of the Premier League season, Fernandes scored a hat-trick against Leeds United and during United’s victory against Villarreal in the Champions League, he became the first player to provide an assist in five consecutive matches of a Champions League campaign for an English club.
21 Lautaro Martinez - 7.03
The Inter Milan forward has scored 14 goals this year, with an equal splitting of seven for his club and seven for his country. Martinez also netted his spot kick in Argentina’s 3-2 penalty shoot-out victory to progress to the Copa America final, which they went on to win.
20. Riyad Mahrez - 7.31
Algeria’s Mahrez has 16 goals to his name in 2021 as well as a pass percentage of 89.5%. The Manchester City midfielder scored both goals in Man City’s 2-0 win over PSG and by scoring via a direct free kick in the previous leg the week before, he led his team through to the first European Cup final in the club’s history.
19. Mason Mount - 6.96
England and Chelsea star Mason Mount established himself as a firm favourite of Gareth Southgate through his efforts in the Euros 2020 and has six goals this year as well as five assists. He scored his first hat-trick for Chelsea in a 7-0 home win over Norwich on 23 October 2021
18. Simon Kjaer - 6.82
AC Milan and Denmark defender Kjaer captained his side during the Euros 2020 and was the first at Christian Eriksen’s side when he collapsed. Denmark made it to the semi finals before losing to England in the semi-finals.
The defender was awarded the UEFA President’s Award with the medical team that stabilised Eriksen.
17. Luis Suarez - 6.60
The 34-year-old midfielder has eight goals for Atletico Madrid in 2021 and has five goals in Uruguay’s World Cup qualifying campaign. Often described as one of the best strikers of all time, Suarez has the rare record of being the leading scorer in three top-flight European leagues, an achievement only matched by Ruud van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo
16 Neymar - 7.29
Neymar has scored seven goals for Brazil this year as well as four goals for PSG. He now has a total of 59 goals in his 80 appearances for the French club as well as 70 goals for his country.
On 6 November 2021, the midfielder scored his 400th career goal during a 2-3 win against Bordeaux.
15. Raheem Sterling - 7.09
Man City and England star Raheem Sterling has 10 goals to his name this year split over his efforts for both club and country, as well as four assists. Sterling was an essential part of England’s success in making it to the Euros 2020 finals in ensuring his nation made it through the World Cup qualifying stages.
14. Leonardo Bonucci - 6.84
The Juventus defender has achieved a pass percentage of 87.7% in 2021 and has contributed three goals to his side.
Bonucci was part of Italy’s triumphant Euros 2020 squad and captained the side following Giorgio Chiellini’s injury in the first round. For the defender’s performance in the final, he was named Star of the Match by UEFA.
13. Giorgio Chiellini - 6.83
Chiellini sustained an injury in the summer and was therefore unable to captain his nation in their Euros 2020 success.
Chiellini is Juventus’ third-most capped player of all time in the Champions League, over taking Alessio Tacchinardi.
12. Romelu Lukaku - 7.33
Chelsea and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku became the most expensive player of all time thanks to his transfer back to former club Chelsea. He scored on debut and now has three goals in his seven appearances for the Blues.
Lukaku also made his 100th appearance for Belgium in September and scored his 67th goal in the process.
11. Erling Haaland - 7.82
Norwegian striker Haaland has 26 goals to his name in 2021 with ten of those goals being scored for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
On 27 November 2021, Haaland set a new record as becoming the youngest player to score 50 goals in the fewest appearances
10. Gianluigi Donnarumma - 6.80
PSG and Italy’s goalkeeper may have missed out on the Ballon d’Or but has won the Yashin Trophy as well as the IFFHS World’s Best Goalkeeper and UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament in 2021.
He played an exceptionally significant role in Italy’s success at the Euros.
9. Kylian Mbappe - 7.62
The PSG midfielder and striker has scored 25 goals in 2021, 16 of which were for his club. Since 2018, Mbappe has made 92 appearances for his club and scored 84 times. He ended his season with the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award and featured in the Ligue 1 Team of the season.
8. Kevin de Bruyne - 7.36
Manchester City’s striker de Bruyne has six goals to his name in 2021 as well as eight assists. At the end of the 2020/21 season, de Bruyne was awarded the PFA Player’s Player of the Year Award.
7. Mohamed Salah - 8.00
The Egyptian forward will be disappointed not to have made it higher up the list, if not even won the Ballon d’Or this year. He has 11 Premier League goals for Liverpool this year as well as six Champions League goals.
During Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Man Utd, Salah became the highest scoring African Player in Premier League history, passing Didier Drogba’s 104 goals and is now the first Liverpool player to score in ten consecutive games. 2021 also saw Salah become the first opposition player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford since Ronaldo in 2003 and the first to do so in the Premier League.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.31
Manchester United’s 2021/22 season would be in an even more dire state if it weren’t for the return of Ronaldo. He has scored four Premier League goals as well as six Champions League goals and pulled the Reds up from near devastation on more than one occasion.
Ronaldo has also now overtaken Iker Casillas as the player with the most appearances in the Champions League
5. N’Golo Kante - 7.09
Chelsea’s Kante has a pass percentage of 88.2% in the 2021 season. He marked his 200th appearance with the Club in February earlier this year as Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger has previously described Kante’s performances as ‘unbelievable’ and his achievements in the Champions League are thought to have put him in contention for this award.
4. Karim Benzema - 7.82
The 33-year-old forward has 25 goals in 2021 with eleven of them being scored in La Liga for Real Madrid. His goal against Sevilla in La Liga on 28 November 2021 made him the highest French goalscorer in club football matches, overtaking Thierry Henry.
He was recalled by Didier Deschamps to the French Euros squad after the blackmailing scandal in 2015 and scored three goals for his country.
3. Jorginho - 6.98
Chelsea’s Jorginho has achieved a pass percentage of 90.6% in 2021 and has scored two goals in both the Champions League and Premier League.
While missing out on the Ballon d’Or, he was named as the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award 2021 beating fellow teammate Kante. He is now also the first player in Premier League history to have 10 consecutive goals from the penalty spot.
2. Robert Lewandowski - 7.93
Lewandowski just missed out on the Ballon d’Or trophy but was still able to take home the Striker of the year. He has scored more than any other contender for the Trophy with 40 goals to his name in 2021. 14 of these goals have been for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga with nine others being scored in the Champions League.
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