COVID-19 has impacted the sporting calendar yet further with France Football announcing that there will not be a Ballon d’Or winner for 2020, leaving a number of players as victims of the decision.
With the award being dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for so many years, it feels somewhat unfair that the players who have excelled in 2020 will not have their individual performances recognised in the same manner.
Very few have been able to stay at the highest level for so long as Messi and Ronaldo have done, but there were a number of candidates who could have taken the trophy home in December.
He is a phenomenon, but 2020 hasn’t been his best year. His 25 league goals allowed him to win his seventh Pichichi and he registered 21 assists, and this put him in contention for a seventh Ballon d’Or, but he was by no means the favourite.
After a poor start to the year, Ronaldo has rediscovered his goalscoring touch, adding 28 Serie A goals this term. He can still add to that as well with there five matches left to play in Italy.
Perhaps the player most impacted by France Football’s decision, Lewandowski has been sensational this year. He won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and took the Golden Boot with 34 goals. He can also help the Bavarian club to Champions League glory.
Kevin De Bruyne
Pep Guardiola’s team depends on the Belgian for creativity. His passing is tremendous and he has made 18 assists in the Premier League this term, just two short of Thierry Henry’s record. He is on course to win the Premier League’s Player of the Year award and would have been in contention for the Ballon d’Or.
Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema
The duo have carried what is far from a vintage championship winning Real Madrid team. Benzema with his goals and Ramos with his defensive and leadership contributions, oh and his penalties. 11 successive matches without defeat since the restart have been down to these two players, and they could even conjure up a magic comeback in the Champions League.
Breaking: The Ballon d’Or will not be awarded in 2020
France Football have confirmed there will be no Ballon d’Or awarded in 2020 due to the “exceptional circumstances” the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the season.
It is the first year since 1956 that France Football will not hand out the prestigious individual award. Lionel Messi won last year to pick up his sixth Ballon d’Or overall, with Cristiano Ronaldo a five-time winner. Only Luka Modric broke this 12-year duopoly when winning in 2018.
France’s Ligue 1 was the most high-profile division in Europe to cancel the remainder of its campaign due to coronavirus, with the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga all resuming after a three-month break.
This imbalance has prompted France Football to postpone this year’s award, with editor-in-chief Pascal Ferre stating this cannot – and should not – be treated as an ordinary one”.
“From a sports perspective, two months (January and February), out of the eleven generally required to form an opinion and decide who should lift the trophies, represent far too little to gauge and judge; without forgetting that the other games were played – or will be played – in unordinary conditions (behind closed doors, with five replacements, Champions League’s Final 8 played in a single game).
“Finally, the equity that prevails for this honorary title will not be warranted, especially when it comes to accounting and preparation : all the award seekers will not be in the same boat, some having seen their season cut short. Therefore, how can we establish a fair comparison? To avoid overly convoluted calculations and projections, we chose the least bad of the options.
“This decision, which was taken of course with all the Group stakeholders, does not delight us but it seems to be the most responsible one. Protecting the credibility and legitimacy of such an award also means ensuring its flawlessness over time.
“The Ballon d’Or will gather again the football big family and enthusiasts in 2021, to relive the happiness that surrounds the ceremonies as we have experienced them in recent years.”
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.
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez spoke about Eden Hazard and his tough start to life at Real Madrid, but how his future could sparkle.
Eden Hazard can win the Ballon d’Or at Real Madrid, according to Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez.
Ballon d’Or chance for Hazard Hazard swapped Chelsea for Madrid in a blockbuster €100million transfer at the start of the 2019-20 season but the Belgium star has struggled at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Injury and fitness problems have limited Hazard to just 15 appearances in the Spanish capital, where the attacker had not played since February 22 due to a broken ankle prior to the coronavirus pandemic. We looked at how his form may be upon return.
But national team boss Martinez – who extended his Belgium contract on Wednesday – is expecting big things from Hazard.
“He can totally win the Ballon d’Or with Real Madrid, without a doubt,” Martinez told Spanish station Cadena Ser.
“Sometimes it takes a difficult start at your new club to give everything you have inside and understand what it means to play in a great club like Real Madrid.
“Eden does not miss games, he lost 18 games with Chelsea in eight years and this has been circumstantial. The game that was injured against Paris Saint-Germain we already saw Eden with a lot of joy in his football with a great connection with his team-mates. I think Real Madrid fans are confident that he will bring many successes.”
Madrid last week returned to their Valdebebas base for the first time in two months, with most major sport across the globe suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The players undertook individual sessions before working in groups on Monday, as LaLiga clubs took a step towards resuming their normal activities – the league hoping to restart in June.
Martinez added: “He is very happy. The footballer Eden is in a moment of great joy, he is very comfortable.
“All the steps have been taken in great detail and I would have had no problem to end the season with Real Madrid and reach the European Championship. I see him very happy and looking forward to some joy this season.”
Brazil legend Kaka believes that Neymar has a chance of winning the 2020 Ballon d’Or.
Kaka believes that it is possible that the 28-year-old could follow in the footsteps of Lionel Messi, who picked up his sixth Ballon d’Or earlier this year, taking him one clear of rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Do I believe that Neymar can win it in 2020? He is one of the best players in the world, there is no doubt about it. What he needs now is to win a team title and be one of the main protagonists of this achievement,” he said of his compatriot in an interview with AFP.
Indeed, he even went as far to say that if PSG were to win the Champions League, Neymar “probably would win the Ballon d’Or”.
In terms of his own ambition, Kaka, who retired from the game in 2017 following a three-year stint in MLS with Orlando City, sees himself returning to professional football.
“I’m working to be a sporting director or a manager, that’s what I think will happen in the future,” he said. “But it won’t be today, because I still have many things to learn in many areas. Then I’ll see what opportunities are presented to me.”
He revealed that he is in close contact with PSG sporting director Leonardo, who he worked with during his time at San Siro.
“I talk a lot with him and he gives me a lot of good advice,” Kaka revealed.
During his playing career, the 37-year-old won a string of top team trophies, including the 2007 Champions League title, a tournament in which he finished as the leading marksman, helping the Rossoneri to a 2-1 win over Liverpool in Athens.