5 stars in line for 2021 Ballon d’Or success as N’Golo Kante enters reckoning

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Chelsea star N’Golo Kante’s name is being thrown about with the Ballon d’Or – but who are his opponents likely to be?

The Frenchman enjoyed an imperious performance during the Blues’ 1-0 win over Manchester City to secure a first Champions League win for nine years.

Winning the Man of the Match award from UEFA on the night, fans called for the 30-year-old to be considered for the biggest individual player award in world football.

The Ballon d’Or, whose winner is chosen by International journalists as well as coaches and players, has been won on 12 of the last 13 occasions by Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

If Kante is considered in trying to buck the trend again, though, there are four other players alongside one of these two he is likely to compete with…

Robert Lewandowski

Despite being 32 years old, the Polish international has not stopped finding the back of the net for Bayern Munich with a furious hunger.

He led the scoring charts across Europe this season with 48 goals on the way to winning a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title.

Lewandowski was honoured with The Best FIFA Men’s Player honour last year – and he will be high on the list for a first Ballon d’Or honour in 2021.

Kylian Mbappe

The 22-year-old’s meteoric rise has continued this year, matching Lewandowski in his goal count while adding a 10th major title to his trophy cabinet.

While he missed out on a Ligue 1 title with PSG, it was his hat-trick against Barcelona and brace against Bayern on their own turf that took them to the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Mbappe showed once again that he performs in the big games, despite the struggles on his team-mates in a tough season, and increased his value to prospective buyers.

Erling Haaland

The 2020/21 campaign has been about the creation of a new rivalry in world-class football between Mbappe and the Borussia Dortmund forward.

Haaland has used his first full season with the Bundesliga side to add 41 goals to his tally, averaging a goal per game in all competitions to hit 132 senior goals for club and country.

Helping Dortmund lift the DFB Pokal, the Champions League top scorer – at 20 years old – is set to command a huge transfer fee over the summer.

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Ruben Dias

While Kevin De Bruyne once again topped the goal involvement stats for City in their Premier League-winning campaign, City’s most valuable player was their new centre-back.

The Portuguese international, arriving from Benfica for £65m last year, filled the gap left by Vincent Kompany in 2019 to concede just 29 goals in 50 appearances.

Dias has already been recognised for his work at the back with the Football Writer’s Association Footballer of the Year award – but the biggest could be yet to come.

Lionel Messi

While Ronaldo broke more records in his illustrious career this season, Juventus’ disastrous Serie A campaign sees rival Messi stand in for the old guard.

The Argentine topped the scoring charts in La Liga with 30 goals, dragging Barcelona at times as they could only win the Copy del Rey under Ronald Koeman.

Despite the lack of success for another season, Messi enjoyed another season quite simply playing in his own individual league of excellence.

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  • Kylian Mbappe
  • Lionel Messi
  • Chelsea FC
  • Erling Haaland
  • Manchester City FC
  • Bayern Munich FC
  • PSG FC
  • Borussia Dortmund FC
  • Barcelona FC

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