Top 5 candidates for the Ballon d'Or this year

By Leon Agitok Sangma | SHILLONG: 

After the Ballon d'Or was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, this year's race for the prestigious award is heating up, with the Euros and Copa America set to take place this summer. 
Let's look at the top 5 candidates for the Ballon d'Or this year.

5.  Robert Lewandowski
Bayern Munich and Polish fans are justifiably still angry about last year's award that was cancelled. Robert Lewandowski should have won it because he was head and shoulders above everyone else last year. He seems to have taken this personally and used it as fuel. He has not slowed down, scoring 41 goals and assisting 6 this year in 35 games for Bayern Munich.

Compared to last year when they won the treble, Bayern this year is only on pace for one league title and this is his biggest challenge in winning a Ballon d'Or.  Lewandowski has scored 7 goals in 8 appearances for Poland. 

4. Cristiano Ronaldo 
Juventus as a whole has been disappointing this season under coach Andrea Pirlo. From being favourites for a 10th straight league title at the beginning of the season, they are now in a fight for a top 4 finish. They have also been knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. Their only hope of a trophy this season is against Atlanta in the Coppa Italia. 

Cristiano Ronaldo, however, has not lost a step even at 36 years old. He has been one of the few good things about Juventus like a diamond in the rough. He has scored 34 goals with 5 assists in 40 appearances for Juventus this season. For Portugal, he has scored 3 goals in eight appearances. Now, his odds on winning the Ballon d'Or lie solely on the Euros. Portugal is a very strong team and can be considered among the favourites for the title this year alongside France. If he can lead his team to back-to-back Euro titles, then a record-tying 6th Ballon d'Or is all but confirmed. If there's one thing we've learned, it's to never count Ronaldo out.

3.  Kevin De Bruyne
Even after missing a fair amount of the English Premier League season due to injury, Kevin De Bruyne has assisted Manchester City to the top of the table, where they are more or less the confirmed winners. Man City has also secured a place in the Champions League final. Furthermore, Belgium has a very strong side and is considered a serious contender for the Euros. So far, De Bruyne has 9 goals and 15 assists in 37 appearances for Manchester City across all competitions. For Belgium, De Bruyne has racked up 4 assists and 2 goals in 6 appearances. 

The only argument against De Bruyne would be that he has missed games due to injury. But he is pivotal to his teams' success and if he can lead Manchester City to a Champions League trophy, then he would have made a strong case for this year's award.

2. Lionel Messi 
At the beginning of the 2020-2021 season after a very controversial summer discussing his transfer, Lionel Messi did not look like the same old player people expected him to be. Barcelona was struggling and fans were concerned. However, the new club president turned things around and now Barcelona has a chance of a domestic double after winning the Copa Del Ray last month.

Since the beginning of the 2021 calendar year, Messi has been unstoppable and has more than made up for the disappointing start to the season. He has scored 36 goals and given his teammates 11 of them in 44 games this year. Betting on Argentina to win the Copa America might be a little risky considering their past performances and so it is pivotal that Messi wins the La Liga if he wants a record 7th Ballon d'Or. 

1. Kylian Mbappe

The face of the new generation of superstars to come, Kylian Mbappe has lived up to expectations and then gone beyond them. His heroic exploits this season in the Champions League knocked out Barcelona and Bayern Munich and was the reason PSG went deep into the competition. In Ligue 1, PSG are on the tails of Lillie, trailing by just 1 point with 3 games to go. If PSG can steal the title from Lille, it significantly boosts Mbappe's chances of a first Ballon d'Or. Even better would be if he and the French national squad could go all the way in the Euros. Mbappe has scored 37 and assisted 10 in 43 games for PSG. He has also scored 2 goals and added an assist for France in 7 games. While it is too early to accurately predict who will win this year before the Euros and Copa America, for now, the clear favourite for this year's award is Kylian Mbappe.

TNT-The Northeast Today is now on WhatsApp: CLICK HERE to receive more updates on your phone.