10. Kylian Mbappe
The Frenchman individually had a great 2021, consistently scoring like the maestro that he with 37 goals and 18 assists but on a collective team level he had a forgettable year. PSG finished 2nd in Ligue 1 which they had won 8 seasons in a row. Also a semi-final exit by the hands of Manchester City is not something they would have liked. France also did not have a jolly time at the Euros getting knocked out in the Round of 16 by the underdogs Switzerland. He will surely win the highest individual honour in football one day but he will have to live with disappointment this time out.
9. Harry Kane
England’s Number 9 has not had the best time this season but his work before the transfer window and in the international competition cannot be discounted. He captained his English side to their first ever Euros final scoring 4 goals in the knockout stages. He also put up more than impressive numbers in a less than mediocre Spurs side. If his move to Manchester City had come to fruition he might have been higher in the list.
8. N’Golo Kante
One of the most inspirational and wholesome players of all time N’Golo Kante won the biggest club competition in the world with Chelsea in 2021. The mid fielder is always the hardest worker on the pitch, he is always there when his team is defending and on occasion he can give the opposition team’s defense a headache as well. He gave a man of the match performance in the UCL final and in the Premier League he is of paramount importance to the Blues. The fact that he has a million dollar smile doesn’t hurt as well.
7. Erling Braut Haaland
The Norwegian along with Mbappe will most definitely be a recipient of this award and though his victory may be coming soon, it is not coming this year. He has again proved he is super human this year scoring a jaw dropping 38 goals and 15 assists in 38 games. The Terminator even won the UEFA Champions League Forward of the Season this year at just 21 years old. His physical prowess can be reiterated just by the fact that he recovered from an injury that was supposed to keep him indisposed till 2022 this weekend and even scored a goal 8 minutes after coming off the bench.
The only goal keeper in the list, Edouard Mendy has been excellent for the Blues in 2021 conceding only 25 goals in 45 games keeping 27 clean sheets. His numbers just tell a part of the story, but the quality of his saves and match winning performances are the biggest reasons he has earned a spot on the list.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo
The 5 time Ballon d’or has not had the best year of his career in 2021. That only adds to his greatness though since he was still able to conjure up 37 goals in two Manchester United and Juventus squads that are struggling to say the least. In the Euros, however, is where we saw CR7 in his element. He was the top goal scorer of the tournament with 5 goals despite getting knocked out in the Round of 16. His exploits in the Champions League for Manchester United are nothing short of heroic.
4. Mohammed Salah
One of the most consistent players in football since joining Liverpool in 2017, Mohammed Salah has scored the most Premier League Goals in the calendar year 2021, 11 of which have come since the beginning of this season. He is going through perhaps the best spell of his Liverpool career and is comfortably sitting at the top of the PL top scorers list 4 goals ahead of the competition.
Perhaps the most controversial pick of the year, Jorginho has earned his place in this list. One of the most important things to consider while voting is the collective performance of their teams. This year Jorginho took home two of the biggest trophies football has to offer: UEFA Champions League 2021 and Euros 2020. In both of these competitions he was a significant part of the squad, particularly for Italy. He played as the pivot and played a huge role in the Italian side’s conquest of Europe.
2. Robert Lewandowski
It was a shame that the Pole was unable to cap off his record breaking 2020 with a Ballon d’or to show for it. This year many still hail him as the worthy winner, however, due to his rather disappointing Euro 2021 campaign his chances of winning are not as high as they were last year. Nevertheless this doesn’t take away the year he has had in Bavaria. With 53 goals in the year he is the top goal scorer of 2021, one might argue that the 33 year-old is getting better with age.
1. Lionel Messi
There is nothing you can write about the Little Magician from the streets of Rosario that hasn’t been written before. His influence on FC Barcelona in 2021 can be seen just with the difference in performances since he left the club. Between Matchday 14 and Matchday 28 in La Liga he had a 15 game streak of atleast a goal or assist every game. During this time he 18 goals and 8 assists. He was the top goal scorer, top assist giver, most MoM awards winner, Player of the Tournament and crowning captain in the Copa America. These titles don’t begin to tell the tale of how Lionel Messi brought home an international trophy to Argentina for the first time in 28 years. And those who questioned his ability to repeat his inhuman numbers were silenced Sunday night itself with the Argentine bagging a hat trick of assists.
All figures from fbref.