Lionel Messi was first on the Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2006. Since then, Messi has been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or 15 times in a row (the prize was not awarded in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic). This is the first time that the Argentinian star did not make it to the shortlist of the European Footballer of the Year award.
Messi’s PSG teammate Neymar is also not on the Ballon d’Or shortlist. However, Manchester United’s Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo has made it to the list of 30 people.
Messi, who has been in the top three of the Ballon d’Or award every year since 2007 except for 2018, has enough reasons not to be on the short list of 30 this time. Messi, who won a record seven Ballon d’Ors, did not have a good last season after joining PSG from Barcelona.
The 35-year-old Messi scored only 11 goals for PSG last season. Neymar had a bad last season. He scored only 13 goals in 28 matches for PSG in the whole season.
Karim Benzema has had a dream season in 2021-22. This French striker is the favorite of Real Madrid to win this year’s Ballon d’Or. Benzema was instrumental in helping Real win the 14th Champions League title in their history. Scored a maximum of 15 goals in the tournament. The French striker scored 44 goals in 46 matches in all competitions for Real, who won La Liga last season.
Benzema will become the fifth French footballer to win the Ballon d’Or if he wins the award. Raymond Kopa (1058), Michel Platini (1983, 1984 and 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinedine Zidane (1998) have won the award as French players before him.
Benzema also scored a goal in Real’s UEFA Super Cup title win over Eintracht Frankfurt last Wednesday, 2–0. It was his 324th goal for Real. With this goal, he has become Real’s second highest goal scorer after Raul Gonzales.
The winner of the Ballon d’Or will be announced on October 17. Real coach Carlo Ancelotti, however, announced now, ‘He (Benzema) is on his way to winning the Ballon d’Or. Have any doubts? I have no doubt.’
His Real Madrid teammate Thibaut Courtois is also fighting with Benzema to win this year’s Ballon d’Or award. He was superb under the goal post as Real won the league and Champions League last season. Apart from this, there are three more teammates of Benzema, Luka Modric, Vinicius Junior and Casemiro.
Sadio Mane, Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Manera will fight to win the Ballon d’Or with Benzema. In the list of 30 people, the maximum seven places have been obtained from last season’s Champions League runner-up team, Liverpool.