In 1956, sports journalist Gabriel Hanot created the prestigious Ballon d’Or (The Golden Ball). The Award is given to the player who has shown the greatest on-field excellence throughout a year, as determined by journalists, coaches, and national team captains.
The Ballon d’Or award is presented by the French news magazine ‘France Football’. It’s regarded as the most significant personal accolade in world football. In recent years, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the prize ceremony. The only other player to win the Ballon d’Or in the past decade was Real Madrid’s Luka Modrić in 2018.
Last year, due to the matches being suspended, there was no Ballon d’Or. It was the first time in 65 years that it hadn’t been awarded. Many felt it should have gone to Lewandowski, who had a fantastic campaign, winning the Champions League, and ending as the competitions top scorer on fifteen goals.
Lionel Messi holds the record for the most Ballon d’Or wins with six. He and Ronaldo will be challenging for it again in 2021. Both players have recently moved clubs, Messi joined PSG, and Ronaldo resigned for Manchester United in a shock move.
Fans will be wondering if Messi can make it a Magnificent Seven? or will ‘That Boy Ronaldo’ win it for a second time with Man Utd?
Betting on the next recipient of the Ballon d’Or is big business for the bookmakers. So you’ll find sportsbooks offering Ballon d’Or odds from the beginning of the season, right up until the award is announced. If you fancy a punt on the red hot favourite or an outsider who you think will scoop the big one, you can look at the leading contenders and their latest betting odds below. Free bet stakes are available with selected bookmakers.
LIONEL MESSI (8/15)
The six-time winner wasn’t even in the top five contenders a few months ago but he’s firmly established himself as the favourite to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or in the sportsbook market. He won the last Ballon d’Or award back in 2018/19 and another win this year would put him two ahead of his closest rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lionel Messi won just one trophy with Barcelona last season, the Copa del Rey. However, he finished top goalscorer in La Liga with 30 goals, for the fifth consecutive season. Nevertheless, it was his performances with Argentina that could land him the award. He finally won a big international trophy (Copa America) with his national team, scoring four goals and getting five assists on the way to lifting the trophy.
He has just joined Paris Saint Germain and fans will have to wait and see if he can do it for another team, especially in the ECL, we can’t see anyone beating PSG’s new number 30 to this year’s Ballon d’Or.
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI (3/1)
As we previously said, many fans thought the Bayern striker should have won this award last season. He is 32 years of age, but he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Robert Lewandowski scored 48 goals in 40 games last season, showing age really is just a number.
If he can continue his fantastic goalscoring form for the rest of the year, he will be in with a shout. His goalscoring prowess in the Bundesliga and Europe is undiminished and if his form continues, he can take Mbappe and Messi all the way.
The Chelsea midfielder was nowhere near 13/2 at the start of the year but following success in the Champions League and Euro 2020, his price shortened considerably! This reminds me of the time when Luka Modric won the Ballon d’Or back in 2018, after reaching the World Cup final and winning the ECL final against Kevin De Bruyne and Co, Jorghinho has enhanced his claims on the prize.
Jorginho has been crucial to the way both Italy and Chelsea play. He’s good on the ball and keeps possession well. At these odds, I think he has a better chance than some and he’d be a popular choice with sports journalists.
N’GOLO KANTE (8/1)
This is one that would go down well with a lot of football fans. Everyone likes Kante and it would be refreshing to see the award go to a player who doesn’t score 30 plus goals a season but excels elsewhere on the pitch. Kante helped Chelsea win the Champions League title against Manchester City last season and was back to his very best form.
One thing that could go against N’golo Kante is the voting system. There will be a lot of people who won’t have come up against Kante and so might not appreciate his abilities. If France had gone all the way at the European Championship this summer, Kante might have been right up there alongside Messi in the betting.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (25/1)
By the standards of greats like Ronaldo, it was not his best year. But for anyone else – including Ronaldo’s own personal benchmarks- this would still be a good season by any measure.
The man with the second-most Ballon D’Or awards in history is still some way off this year’s favourites in the betting odds at 14/1, but even so, 36 goals across all competitions and topping Serie A’s goalscoring table make him stand out as one who can’t be ignored.
Ronaldo has been on fire for Manchester United this season, with five goals in his first six games. He still needs to do a lot of work before he can stand a chance at winning this award again, but you wouldn’t put it past the 5-time winner!
KYLIAN MBAPPE (40/1)
It feels like it’s a matter of when not if, Kylian Mbappe will win the Ballon d’Or. He is emerging now as one of the best players in the world and has got off to a good start this year. Mbappe finished the season with 42 goals and 11 assists in all competitions.
The French forward thrilled fans when he scored a hat-trick at the Nou Camp against Barcelona in the ECL group stage. His side got to the semi-finals of the Champions League but he was injured and didn’t feature in either leg. However, France’s disappointing Euros along with PSGs failure to win Ligue 1 could go against him. Yet, he still remains Messi’s closest challenger for many punters.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE (66/1)
The Manchester City midfielder is another outsider with a decent chance. Kevin De Bruyne helped his team lift the Premier League trophy and the blues also finish runners up in the ECL final last season. De Bruyne was also a major factor in Belgium reaching the Euro 2020/21 quarterfinals. The skilful midfielder has been overlooked in previous seasons and he would certainly deserve the award for his impact with Man City over the past few campaigns.
Outside of the main betting, there is a couple of players who make interesting outsiders. Manchester City and England winger Raheem Sterling enjoyed a successful campaign with his club and country. Sterling and Jack Grealish are now teammates at the Eithad and City fans might fancy a flutter on either of them. It’s still unknown if Harry Kane will join them at Manchester City, but he could be another one to watch in the betting, Kane’s goals (4) played a big part in England reaching the Euro 2020 final.
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PREVIOUS BALLON D’OR WINNERS
Cristiano Ronaldo 2016/2017
Since the Ballon d’Or parted from FIFA back in 2016, there have been three different winners in four years. Cristiano Ronaldo took home the 2016 and 2017 awards, beating Lionel Messi both times. Ronaldo won the Champions League in both of those years, which is usually a big factor in winning the Ballon d’Or. On top of this, he also won the European Championships with Portugal in 2016.
Luka Modric 2018
In 2018, Modric finally broke the 10-year chain of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi winning the Ballon d’Or. He was pivotal in Real Madrid winning the Champions League once again that season and then helped guide his country to the World Cup final, where they finished runners up. Modric was also awarded the Golden Ball, for the Player Of The Tournament at the World Cup.
Lionel Messi 2019
After three years of missing out, Messi finally got his hands on the award once again. He won the La Liga title with Barcelona and landed the European Golden Shoe, scoring 36 goals in the league. This was Messi’s sixth Ballon d’Or of his career, and now he will be hoping to make it seven with a win in 2021.
BALLON D’OR TRIVIA
First Winner Of The Ballon d’Or
In 1956, the Ballon d’Or was first awarded to English footballer Stanley Matthews. It came down between him and Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano, with just three points separating them for who would receive this prestigious honour.
Matthews is one of the most decorated English players and was even made ‘Sir Stanley Matthews’ while he still played. In addition, he holds the record for being the oldest player in the top division at the grand age of 50 years and five days!
How Is The Ballon d’Or Decided?
Only a select few get to decide who will take home the Ballon d’Or award. International managers and captains, along with journalists, determine who wins the Golden Ball. Each manager, captain and journalist is given three votes, and the ballots have different points values. For example, one is worth five points, one is worth three points, and the final vote is worth one point. You can only vote for three nominees who make up the shortlist, and then the player with the most points is crowned the winner.
When Is The Ballon d’Or 2021?
Th 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony will take place on November 29th at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. This year there are 30 nominees, due to last seasons Ballon d’Or not taking place. Lionel Messi is the current favourite to win, which would be his seventh.
Famous Players Who Didn’t Win
One player who famously missed out on a Ballon d’Or was Thierry Henry. Whilst at Arsenal, he won two Premier League titles, was voted the PFA Player Of The Year in two consecutive seasons and won four Golden Boots in his time with the Gunners. However, he still finished runner up to Pavel Nedved for that 2003 crown after having an arguably more successful campaign than the Czech midfielder had enjoyed with Juventus.
Ribery is another player who unfairly missed out. In 2013 he was part of a Bayern Munich side that won the treble, and yet still couldn’t beat Cristiano Ronaldo for first place. Ribery said in an interview he felt that he should have won the award that season.
One more player who was unlucky not to win the Ballon d’Or is Virgil Van Dijk. The Liverpool defender came second in 2019. That season Van Dijk guided Liverpool Champions League final victory and was arguably the best defender in the world. But as always, the Ballon d’Or voters favour forwards and Virgil missed out.