The 4 major inconsistencies of the Ballon d’Or 2021
The Ballon d’Or ceremony, held Monday in Paris, once again crowned Lionel Messi. A scandalous election for many observers, which is not the only inconsistency of this evening.
▪ Favorite Messi over Lewandowski ✨
Of the seven Ballons d’Or won by Lionel Messi (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021), this one is perhaps the most contested. Whether they are players, journalists or simple observers, many are indeed those to have criticized the coronation of the Argentine striker since his election, Monday evening at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Winner of the Copa del Rey with FC Barcelona and the Copa America with Argentina, his first major title in the selection, the “Pulga” has not been unworthy. That is not the question. But there was stronger and more consistent than him this year.
After winning it all in 2020, Robert Lewandowski continued to stack goals with Bayern Munich, breaking Gerd Müller’s record and winning the Bundesliga title. And unlike the winner, not very convincing since his arrival at PSG, the Pole continues at the start of the season. Top scorer in the championship, co-top scorer in the Champions League: “Lewy” panics counters like never before. Not enough for the Ballon d’Or jury, which awarded him a meager consolation prize with this new top scorer of the year award. Was it really necessary?
▪ Benzema absent from the podium 😳
There were three of them. Three Frenchmen named among the thirty finalists and as many to appear in the top 10 of this Ballon d’Or 2021. But none ended up on the podium. Kylian Mbappé had to settle for the 9e place, N’Golo Kanté of 5e and Karim Benzema from the 4e. To have carried on his shoulders a Real Madrid of the most dull last season, to have succeeded in his return to the France team after more than five years of absence and to have won the League of Nations with the Blues was insufficient for “KB9”, ahead quite clearly by a Jorginho who has 221 points more than him.
It is understandable that the 170 voters were seduced by the season of the Italian midfielder, winner of the Champions League with Chelsea and the Euro with the Nazionale. But the record is not everything, otherwise Antoine Griezmann would have been elected in 2018. Beyond his titles, the Blue was not the most dominant player of his team, in club as in selection. If his third place is not stolen, it remains an anomaly given the level displayed by his pursuer from Madrid, that many had put at the table of Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski before the election.
▪ Neymar in the top 20 🤔
His presence among the thirty named already seemed suspicious, but finding Neymar in the top 20 made the Ballon d’Or lose the little credibility it had left. At the end of a vote, the relevance of which can be criticized, the Brazilian finds himself at a flattering 16e square. How to explain, when his statistics have been in free fall for five months and his physical condition calls out, that he is in front of a Luis Suarez (17e) crowned champion of Spain and devilishly effective with Atlético Madrid, or a Harry Kane (23e) Premier League top scorer and Euro second scorer?
▪ Donnarumma rather than Mendy 🧤
At the risk of paraphrasing Habib Beye, Edouard Mendy would have deserved to win the Yachine Trophy, awarded to Gianluigi Donnarumma. If the Italian achieved a very good Euro, finishing best player in the competition – a rare distinction for a goalkeeper – he did not have the same influence as the Senegalese over the year. The former Rennais is impassable since he joined Chelsea and is not for nothing in the continental coronation of the Blues. Should we favor the performance of one over a month of competition over that of the other over a whole year? The answer is no.