The awarding of the prize was cancelled in 2020 and the world’s best players are again making their cases to claim the coveted individual honour.
After being cancelled in 2020, the Ballon d’Or is back, with the great and good of the football world again eyeing the biggest individual honour the game has to offer.
The shortlist for the 2021 prize has now been announced, with 29 players joining 2019 winner Lionel Messi on the shortlist to claim this year’s prize.
The winner will be announced on Monday, November 29 in Paris, so who holds the most power in this year’s race?
Goal.com ranks the contenders below:
15. Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Last time: 15th
In 2021: 12 goals, eight assists. Won Champions League & UEFA Super Cup.
Mount’s hat-trick against Norwich was a timely reminder of the Chelsea midfielder’s ability after a quiet start to the season for the England international.
For those wondering, Mount’s role in Chelsea winning the Champions League, coupled with his playing time at Euro 2020, just gives him the edge on Foden for their respective returns in 2021.
14. Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Last time: 12th
In 2021: Two assists, 10 clean sheets. Won Euro 2020, Coppa Italia & Supercoppa Italiana.
With Chiellini not even a regular starter for Juventus anymore, expect this to the final time he makes a Ballon d’Or shortlist.
There is, though, no doubt that his performances at Euro 2020 were worthy of recognition this year.
13. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
Last time: 13th
In 2021: One goal, two assists, 26 clean sheets. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.
Dias continues to quietly impress at the back for Manchester City, with his performances confirming that Virgil van Dijk has a fight on his hands to retain his crown as the Premier Legaue’s top centre-back.
12. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Last time: 18th
In 2021: 32 goals, eight assists.
A few weeks ago, it looked a long-shot for Salah to even make the top 20 of the final Ballon d’Or rankings, but his form since the start of the season has been that sensational that he could yet earn himself a top-10 finish.
Undoubtedly the best player in the world in terms of his current performances, the Egypt international is making himself an early favourite to claim football’s ultimate individual prize in 2022.
11. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
Last time: 11th
In 2021: 20 clean sheets. Won Euro 2020.
Donnarumma’s wait to become PSG’s undisputed No.1 continues after a week in which he twice watched Keylor Navas play between the sticks from the bench, but Euro 2020’s Player of the Tournament should still find himself fighting for a top-10 finish in the Ballon d’Or race.
10. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Last time: 10th
In 2021: 13 goals, 15 assists. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.
It feels like De Bruyne is still moving through the gears during these early months of the campaign, but that has not stopped him from providing both goals and assists in the colours of Man City and Belgium in 2021-22.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Last time: 9thIn 2021: 39 goals, four assists. Won Coppa Italia & Supercoppa Italiana.Late winners in the Champions League notwithstanding, it seems that Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United gets more and more controversial by the game.
There is no doubt that he has enjoyed another stellar year in front of goal, but could this be the final time we see CR7 among the Ballon d’Or contenders?
8. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
Last time: 8th
In 2021: 43 goals, 13 assists. Won DFB-Pokal.
Haaland faces being out of action for at least a month and potentially until 2022 after suffering a hip flexor injury, but if we have seen the last of him in 2021, then he can look back on his year with immense pride.
7. Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
Last time: 7th
In 2021: 30 goals, eight assists. Won Serie A.
Lukaku’s underwhelming start to life at Chelsea has not been helped by the injury he suffered against Malmo, and his fantastic 2021 is now in danger of petering out.
6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Last time: 6th
In 2021: 37 goals, 16 assists. Won UEFA Nations League, Coupe de France & Trophee des Champions.
Unlike Neymar, Mbappe seems to be thriving alongside Lionel Messi at PSG, with the France forward’s early-season form putting him on pace for his best campaign in terms of direct goal involvements.
Whether this will be his final year at Parc des Princes, however, remains unknown.
5. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Last time: 5th
In 2021: 35 goals, 14 assists. Won UEFA Nations League.
Though Benzema did not prove to be decisive in Real Madrid’s Clasico victory on Sunday, he continues to pose a threat to pretty much every defence he comes up against.
4. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Last time: 4th
In 2021: One goal, one assist. Won Champions League & UEFA Super Cup.
Kante is another whose 2021-22 season feels like it is yet to get properly going due to fitness issues, but expect him to be making match-defining performances for Chelsea sooner rather than later.
3. Jorginho (Chelsea)
Last time: 3rd
In 2021: Seven goals, three assists. Won Euro 2020, Champions League & UEFA Super Cup.He remains a devisive figure when it comes to the Ballon d’Or race, but it now seems inevitable that the Italy international will find himself on the podium come the end of November.
2. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Last time: 2nd
In 2021: 54 goals, eight assists. Won Bundesliga, Club World Cup & DFL-Supercup.
Lewandowski’s goal tally for the year continues to rise, and there is certainly an argument to be made that the Poland international has been the most consistent high-performer over the course of 2021.
There are only a few weeks to wait to see whether the Ballon d’Or voters agree…
1. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
Last time: 1st
In 2021: 40 goals, 14 assists. Won Copa America & Copa del Rey.
While Messi’s wait for a first Ligue 1 goal goes on, he has proven to be the difference on two occasions in the Champions League already, and given that was ultimately why he was bought, an argument could still be made that the Argentine has made a solid start to life in the French capital.