Ballon d’Or is hands-down the biggest individual award in the world of football.
Only a few of the finest footballers have managed to win the prestigious prize. Lionel Messi was the most recent recipient of the award, winning it for a record sixth time in his career.
The usual suspects lead the discussion for the favourites to win the football Oscars this year, with the likes of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leading the race once again. But with both forwards not getting any younger, the next generation of football players have now come into contention.
Here, we look at 5 favourites to win the Ballon d’Or 2020.
5: De Bruyne – Man City
Arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League right now. Kevin de Bruyne’s importance to Manchester City cannot be overstated, with the Belgian a crucial cog in Pep Guardiola’s system.
De Bruyne joined Manchester City from Wolfsburg in 2015 for a then club-record fee of £55 million. Much was made of the fee, with many critics believing that City had overpaid for the midfielder. His previous stint in the Premier League had not gone well, with Chelsea deciding to move him on.
However, de Bruyne has transformed into one of the best midfielders in the world. His creativity and world-class passing are well-renowned. Meanwhile, his trademark low, drilled cross into the box makes it hard for opposition defenders to deal with, while City attackers benefit from it.
De Bruyne’s versatility on the football field has been well utilized by Guardiola. The 29-year old is capable of playing as a central midfielder, on the wings, and as an attacking midfielder. His talent is such that he excels in almost every position that he plays in.
After an injury-riddled 2018-19 season, de Bruyne has bounced back strongly. In 40 appearances for Manchester City, the Belgium international has scored 13 goals and provided 19 assists. He averages 3.5 key passes per game, the highest in the Premier League. He also manages 2.1 crosses per game, the second-highest in the league behind Trent Alexander-Arnold.
4: Mbappe – PSG
The future of football, but also the present. Kylian Mbappe’s rise through the ranks to become one of the best forwards in the world has been incredible. At just 21 years of age, Mbappe has achieved more in his career than most football player.
Mbappe joined Paris Saint Germain in 2017 after an exceptional breakthrough season with Monaco. The fee was £166 million, making him the most expensive teenager ever.
Mbappe has since gone on to become the star of a PSG team that also has Neymar, while also playing a leading role in the France national football team.
This season, he has been at his exceptional best. The Football World Cup-winner has made 33 appearances in all competitions for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
In that time, he has scored 30 goals and provided nine assists. His exceptional dribbling ability, as well as his pace and power on the football pitch has seen him compared to the Brazilian Ronaldo. A highly intelligent football player, his creativity has often gone unnoticed.
He averages 4.4 shots per game in the league, the second-highest in Ligue 1 behind Neymar. He also manages 2 key passes per game, third-highest in the PSG squad, behind Angel di Maria and Neymar.
3: Lewandowski – Bayern
It often feels like Robert Lewandowski’s quality goes unnoticed because he plays in Germany. Currently the best no.9 in the world, Lewandowski is ageing like a fine wine in the Bundesliga.
The Pole joined Bayern Munich from rivals Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer in 2014. Many have hailed it as the best free transfer in the history of football. Lewandowski’s impact in Bavaria has been incredible. Since his debut in 2014, the striker has made 285 appearances for the club in all competitions. He has scored an astounding 242 goals and provided 53 assists.
The 31-year old has won the Bundesliga top scorer in four out of his six seasons at Bayern Munich. His latest one was for the 2019-20 season, with the former Lech Poznan player at his clinical best.
The Poland international made 43 appearances in all competitions for Bayern Munich, scoring 52 goals and providing six assists. The Bavarians won their eighth consecutive league title, largely due to his efforts.
2: Ronaldo – Juventus
While Cristiano Ronaldo is yet to achieve what he came to Juventus for, there is no doubting the season he is having.
The Portuguese superstar continues to defy expectations by performing at the highest level possible. He is the talisman of the Juventus side, despite having joined just two summers ago.
Having signed with the Italian football giants from Real Madrid for a club-record fee of £88 million in 2018, Ronaldo’s record at the club has been incredible so far.
The 35-year old would like to get his hands on the Champions League trophy with the Bianconeri. However, for the time being, Juventus and Ronaldo continue to rule the roost in Serie A. The former Manchester United star has been in fine form this season as well, combining well with Paulo Dybala to form a potent attack for Maurizio Sarri.
1: Messi – Barcelona
In 39 appearances in all competitions for Juventus, Ronaldo has scored 29 goals and provided five assists. The Portugal international has been used as a left-winger as well as a striker by Sarri this season. He is the first player to score 25 goals for Juventus in the league since Omar Sivori in 1961.
There isn’t much new to be said about Lionel Messi. There are no secrets as far as he is concerned. Arguably the greatest player to have ever played the game, Messi’s legend rises with every game that he plays.
The Argentine continues to be Barcelona’s most important player, and “Messidependencia” is well and truly in full flow. Almost every good attacking move for Barcelona has Messi’s hand, or in this case, feet. He is the squad’s best creator, passer as well as goalscorer.
The 33-year old had some injury issues at the start of the season, but has returned to perform at his usual brilliant best. He has been utilised in a variety of positions by Ernesto Valverde as well as by his successor Quique Setien. No matter where he plays, Messi manages to deliver.
The forward has made 38 appearances in all competitions for the club this season, scoring 27 goals and providing 22 assists. He leads the football league for shots per game, key passes per game and dribbles per game.
While Barcelona may not win the league this season, there is no arguing that Messi is leading the race for the Ballon d’Or.