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The Ballon d’Or is widely regarded as the most prestigious individual award for football players across Europe. It is an award presented by the French news magazine, France Football and it honours the most outstanding football player throughout the previous season. The winner of the award is decided by votes from several football journalists, coaches, and captains of national teams.
Eternal rivals, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi maintained an absolute hegemony over the coveted ballon d'Or prize for a decade, winning it five times each from 2007-2017 only for it to be ended by Luka Modric after his exploits during the 2017/2018 season. However, Lionel Messi added another golden ball to his collection last year for a record sixth time after a breathtaking season taking his Ballon d'Or tally to six, one above his eternal rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 2019/2020 season, however, seems to bring a new twist to the race for the 2020 Ballon d'Or due to the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the suspension of football activities across Europe for three months. The outbreak of the pandemic worldwide has resulted in international tournaments such as the Euro 2020 and the Copa America 2020 getting postponed, which means international performance would not necessarily be considered as a factor in determining who would clinch the prize. Hence, performances at club level especially at European competitions, would be very vital in determining the winner.
Several criteria are usually considered in determining who would clinch the prestigious prize. Such criteria include goals and assists statistics, individual performance at club level and national level, performance at European competitions, consistency throughout the season, performance in huge fixtures, individual and collective achievement throughout the season, and trophies. It is also a point worthy of note that attacking players tend to be the front-runners due to the achievements of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the past decade. Those two have revolutionized football due to their brilliance and incredible level of consistency so much that the performance of defenders and midfielders are generally looked down on.
The Front-runners for the 2020 Ballon d’Or
1. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski is most likely to win the Ballon d’Or in 2020. He has been heads and shoulders above everyone this season including the S.I standards for football excellence this decade, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. With over fifty goals in all competitions this season, Robert Lewandowski currently tops the list for the highest goal scorer in Europe this season. His consistency from the beginning of the season till the end has been remarkable and it deserves a lot of plaudits. Although critics belittle his achievements because he plays in a “farmers” league, his goal and assists contributions in the UEFA Champions league are not bad either.
He currently leads the chasing pack for the top goal scorer in the UEFA Champions league this season, and he has been pivotal in Bayern’s Bundesliga triumph . He was also instrumental in winning the DFB-Pokal title. A lethal number nine with excellent technique and physique, he is currently having the best season of his career and is undoubtedly my favourite to win the prestigious golden ball. He checks all boxes required to be regarded as the best footballer in 2020, as he was arguably the most consistent football player in Europe this season. However, he would have to continue his impressive form in the Champions League to keep away other challengers.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
With over 40 goals for club and country this season, Cristiano Ronaldo comes second on this list. His goal scoring form has been crucial for Juventus this season as they march towards their 9th consecutive scudetto title. Individual brilliance from him and Paulo Dybala have been essential in keeping Sarri’s Juventus afloat this season. Streamlining his game towards dropping deep and linking up play and moving up quickly to score goals, his goal-scoring record has been nothing short of amazing at 35 years of age. When all looked lost, he and Paulo Dybala had always found ways to conjure up moments of magic to win games at crucial times this season. Although the only domestic trophy he looks likely to win this season is the Scudetto, he also played a major part in Juventus Coppa Italia run in which they lost the final to Napoli. He also lost the Italian Super Cup earlier this year. Critics might point out the fact that he has not been as prolific or entertaining as he was in his earlier years, but at 35 years of age, no one would dispute the fact that he still gets the job done. Scoring 28 league goals and further providing six more for his teammates, he is still in pole position to overtake from Robert Lewandowski in the race for the golden boot who currently leads the race with 33 goals. With no international tournament coming up, winning the Champions League with an array of brilliant performances is important if he is to win the Ballon d’Or this season.
3. Lionel Messi
The Barcelona talisman has been their go-to-man over the past two seasons. However, this season it seems the burden is becoming increasingly heavy for him to bear amidst the change of coaches’ mid-season, horrendous transfer policies and relative board problems. His ability to wither the storm and produce flashes of magic that inspires the team to victory is not enough anymore, and it would not be able to win Barcelona any domestic trophy this season. With 23 leagues goals and 20 assists to his name this season, there is still a case for Messi to win the Ballon d’Or despite the noticeable drop in his goal-scoring numbers. He has provided a whopping sum of 20 assists this season, breaking a record set by Barcelona Legend, Xavi. Barcelona's subpar performances throughout the season have seriously hindered his Ballon d’Or chances. The Copa Del Rey disappointment also does not help his case either. However, winning the Champions League trophy might give him a slim chance of winning the Ballon d’Or this year. Even if he does, his chances are still rather slim.
4. Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City’s illustrious playmaker has been a mainstay for them this season, although they lost the Premier League title to an astounding and hungry Liverpool side. They are still in pole position to end the season on a positive note, they still have the FA cup and the UEFA champions league to fight for. Kevin de Bryune has been immense this season, scoring 13 goals and assisting 21 more for his teammates. The Belgian Wizard does not look likely to stop anytime soon. His vision and sumptuous passing have been important to City this season and he has been their focal point in the final third. An FA Cup win and a Champions League win would no doubt propel him to be the favourite for the 2020 Ballon d’Or.
5. Kylian Mbappe
The young ace has not taken his foot off the pedal following his successful 2018/2019 season. He has continued to brush up his CV with brilliant stats. With 30 goals and 17 assists this season, he has been consistent with his goal contributions despite the abrupt disruption of the Ligue 1 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which might have led to the reduction of his goal tally. However, a Champions League win with a flurry of good performances in the knock out stages would certainly boost his chances of claiming the prestigious prize.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ballon d'Or would not be awarded to anyone this year. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comment section.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Fawaz Akintunde
Muhammad Adebola on July 18, 2020: