Lewandowski leans for Ballon d’Or as Messi targets seventh prize

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PARIS, France, November 29 Robert Lewandowski threatens to deny Lionel Messi a record-breaking seventh Ballon d’Or title as the prestigious awards ceremony returns on Monday after it was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

The Bayern Munich and Poland forward stole a Bundesliga record of 41 goals in just 29 games last season to eclipse the long-established mark by the late Gerd Mueller.

Lewandowski, 33, won the FIFA Best Male Player of 2020 award and has the support of coach Julian Nagelsmann and his Bayern teammate Thomas Mueller after a prolific start to the new campaign.

“’Lewy’ has to win the thing on Monday when you see the way he’s playing right now,” Mueller said of a player who has already scored 25 times in 20 appearances this season.

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have teamed up to win 11 of the last 12 editions of the Ballon d’Or, the only exception in 2018 when Luka Modric helped Real Madrid to another Champions League triumph and inspired Croatia in the final. of the World Cup.

“Robert deserves to win because in my opinion he has been more incredibly consistent than any other player,” Nagelsmann said last month in an interview with Munich newspaper Abendzeitung.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi kisses the trophy after winning the 2021 Copa America © AFP / File / CARL DE SOUZA

While Messi enjoyed a start to life at Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentine scored 30 league goals in his Barcelona farewell season and also won the Copa del Rey.

His case was bolstered by a first major international trophy in July, as Argentina beat rivals Brazil to win the Copa America at the Maracana, ending the country’s 28-year wait for the title.

– Seventh heaven? –

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“My biggest prize was what I was able to achieve with the national team,” Messi recently told the Catalan daily Sport.

“After fighting and fighting so much for this achievement, it was the best considering how much it cost.

“If the Ballon d’Or came, it would be extraordinary for what it would mean to win one more. The seventh would be crazy.

Ronaldo last won the trophy in 2017. The Champions League all-time top scorer has scored in all five European games in his second stint at Manchester United, but appears to be an away contender for a sixth Ballon d’Or.

Karim Benzema has received support from Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane and tennis star Rafael Nadal after a formidable year with Real Madrid.

However, the French star received a one-year suspended sentence this week for complicity in an attempt to blackmail his former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape. He was also fined 75,000 euros ($ 84,000).

Five members of the Euro 2020-winning Italian squad are on the shortlist of 30, including Chelsea midfielder and Champions League winner Jorginho.

Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland – considered the future Ballon d’Or winners – also feature alongside Neymar and Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, the Premier League’s top scorer this season.

Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas, UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, is one of the main contenders to succeed Megan Rapinoe, winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or. The American was not among the 20 nominees.

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Putellas is joined by Barca teammates Jennifer Hermoso and Lieke Martens after their Champions League triumph, with Australian Sam Kerr among five Chelsea representatives.

Christine Sinclair, of Canada’s Olympic gold medalist, is also in the running.

The Kopa Trophy will be presented to the best young male player, while 10 goalkeepers are shortlisted for the Yashin Trophy.


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