Football royalty is set to gather at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris this Monday, November 29, for the ceremony to crown the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner in both men’s and women’s football.
Voting for the winners closed on November 24, and the winners will be announced on Monday evening at 20:00 GMT.
The race to be crowned the best men’s player of 2021 is between Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski, with Karim Benzema the third favourite.
Should Messi win, it will be his seventh Ballon d’Or trophy, pulling further away from Cristiano Ronaldo, who currently has five.
The selection process for the Ballon d’Or
French magazine France Football first chooses the 30 candidates for the prize and this is followed by a vote between 180 selected journalists, who select five players from that group.
Fifty specialist journalists then vote for the world’s best player using a points system which consists of giving each player six, four, three, two or one point(s).
The list of players for the best young player (the Kopa Trophy) and the best goalkeeper (the Yashin Trophy) is made up of 10 players.
What do you need to do to win a Ballon d’Or?
The criteria to win a Ballon d’Or covers a variety of things. The level of performance put in by the player throughout the season is, of course, recognised, with statistics such as goals scored, assists provided, the performance of the player’s team and the leadership shown.
Trophies won by the player are also taken into account, as well as the importance of said trophies, and the Copa America win with Argentina could well tip things in Messi’s favour this year, while the player’s image on and off the pitch is also considered.
Winning a Ballon d’Or can change a player’s life and is often included in contracts as a condition for the payment of a bonus.
Nominees for the female Ballon d’Or
Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas is the favourite to win this year’s prize and would be the first female Spanish player to win the award.
The full list of female nominees is as follows: Sandra Panos, Alexia Putellas, Irene Paredes, Jenni Hermoso and Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Kadidiatou Diani (PSG), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Christiane Endler (PSG, Lyon), Christine Sinclair (Thorns FC), Ashley Lawrence (PSG), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Viviane Miedema (Arsenal), Ellen White (Manchester City), Pernille Harder (Chelsea), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG), Stina Blackstenius (Hacken), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea) and Sam Kerr (Chelsea).
The list of nominees for the best goalkeeper are: Keylor Navas and Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Samir Handanovic (Inter), Ederson (Manchester City), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City), Edouard Mendy (Chelsea) and Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid).
Pedri is the big favourite to win the best young player award, and the other nominees are: Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Pedri (Barcelona), Jeremy Doku (Rennes), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich), Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen), Jude Bellingham and Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Nuno Mendes (PSG).