L’Equipe name Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among five potential Ballon d’Or winners

The golden boys! L’Equipe name Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jorginho, Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema as the Ballon d’Or potential winners, while Neymar is tipped to struggle for votes

  • The prestigious Ballon d’Or awards return this year after a 2020 cancellation
  • French newspaper L’Equipe have picked out their five frontrunners to win it 
  • PSG star Neymar is not in the five and is expected to struggle to get votes
  • Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski are among the leaders 

French newspaper L’Equipe are predicting Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar will struggle for votes in pursuit of his first Ballon d’Or award – with five players picked out ahead of him. 

The prestigious Ballon d’Or awards were cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic but will return to Paris this winter at the Theatre du Chatelet on November 29.

But the newspaper do not expect one of Paris’s Brazilian star to be hoisting the individual prize, instead picking out Jorginho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi as the five potential winners. 

Tuesday’s front cover of French newspaper L’Equipe names their five Ballon d’Or contenders

They have included Lionel Messi (left) but believe Neymar (right) will struggle to get the votes

They have included Lionel Messi (left) but believe Neymar (right) will struggle to get the votes

The quintet adorned L’Equipe’s front cover on Tuesday morning and credible cases can be made for all with Messi a Copa America champion, Jorginho lifting the Champions League with Chelsea and the Euros with Italy, Benzema and Lewandowski jockeying to be the best No 9 in the world and Ronaldo left Juventus as the top scorer in Italy.

L’Equipe narrowed it down further by backing Messi, now of PSG, Benzema and Lewandowski as the most likely three.

Frenchman Benzema is believed to be peaking at the perfect time for voters having played a key role in clinching the UEFA Nations League title for France. He is also a leading light in what is a struggling Real Madrid side.  

Bayern Munich star Lewandowski was widely seen as a clear frontrunner last season, only to have the awards ceremony axed amid the pandemic.

Lewandowski has put in career-best performances for Bayern Munich

Karim Benzema has almost singlehandedly guided Real Madrid in recent seasons

Both Robert Lewandowski (left) and Karim Benzema (right) are seen as two potential winners 

The Pole was in a league of his own throughout 2019-20 and finished with 55 goals across all competitions, leading to him winning the FIFA Best Men’s award.

Lewandowski swallowed his disappointment to bag a further 40 goals in 2020-21 and remains one of the clear frontrunners since Messi last won the award in 2019, his sixth overall Ballon d’Or. 

Fourteen players from the Premier League earned nominations – but only Jorginho has been given a shot at winning by L’Equipe.

They include: Cesar Azpilicueta, Kevin De Bruyne, Ronaldo, Ruben Dias, Phil Foden, Bruno Fernandes, Jorginho, Harry Kane, N’Golo Kante, Romelu Lukaku, Riyad Mahrez, Mason Mount, Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling. 

Messi is the bookmakers’ favourite win the prestigious award for a record seventh time next month having scored 38 goals in 47 games last season, helping guide Barcelona to the Copa del Rey before winning the Copa America with Argentina.

Jorginho won the Champions League with Chelsea in May as the Blues beat Manchester City

Jorginho won the Champions League with Chelsea in May as the Blues beat Manchester City

Despite not being favoured by bookmakers, Cristiano Ronaldo made L'Equipe's shortlist

Despite not being favoured by bookmakers, Cristiano Ronaldo made L’Equipe’s shortlist

Ballon d’Or shortlist

Premier League: Cesar Azpilicueta, Kevin de Bruyne, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes, Phil Foden, Jorginho, Harry Kane, N’Golo Kanté, Romelu Lukaku, Riyad Mahrez, Mason Mount, Mohamed Salah, Raheem Sterling

Serie A: Nicolo Barella, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Simon Kjaer, Lautaro Martinez

LaLiga: Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Gerard Moreno, Pedri, Luis Suarez

Ligue 1: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, Neymar

Bundesliga: Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski

But Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel believes Jorginho should be rewarded for his efforts last season with the game’s biggest individual prize. 

‘Jorginho deserves to win the Ballon d’Or,’ the Chelsea manager said during an appearance at the annual Sports Festival in the Italian city of Trento, according to Football Italia.

‘He’s a very intelligent player and it’s a pleasure to be his coach.’

Only four midfielders – Luis Figo in 2000, Pavel Nedved in 2003, Kaka in 2007 and Luka Modric in 2018 – have won the Ballon d’Or since the turn of the century. 

The Italian is the only midfielder the newspaper have in with a shot of winning with the other four all attackers – a position long favoured among the judges.

Messi may find himself as the favourite ahead of his team-mate Neymar but the Brazilian would be getting a vote if Messi had his way.

‘Obviously I have two players in my team that I would vote for, Ney and Kylian (Mbappe),’ Messi told L’Equipe via RMC Sport. 

Neither Neymar nor Mbappe lifted a major trophy in 2020-21, with Mbappe ending his drought by lifting the UEFA Nations League alongside Benzema for France last weekend.  

Asked about the Ballon d'Or, Messi (left) said he'd have voted for Neymar and Kylian Mbappe

Asked about the Ballon d’Or, Messi (left) said he’d have voted for Neymar and Kylian Mbappe

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