Ballon d'Or 2021: Lionel Messi strong favourite to win record seventh men's title tonight

The Ballon d'Or ceremony returns in Paris tonight after cancellation of the 2020 awards; Lionel Messi is the favourite to win the men's award, while England's Ellen White and Fran Kirby are nominated for the women's trophy; event starts at 7pm UK time

Lionel Messi is the bookmakers' favourite to win a seventh Ballon d'Or after lifting the Copa America with Argentina
Image: Lionel Messi is the bookmakers' favourite to win a seventh Ballon d'Or after lifting the Copa America with Argentina

The Ballon d'Or will be handed out for the first time in two years tonight, with Lionel Messi the strong favourite to claim the men's award for a record seventh time at the ceremony in Paris.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward ended his long wait for a major international trophy when he helped Argentina win the Copa America in the summer, while he also guided Barcelona to Copa del Rey glory before moving to the French capital in August.

Messi's likely closest challenger for the trophy is Robert Lewandowski, who was the favourite in 2020 before the awards were cancelled because of Covid.

Robert Lewandowski scored yet another hat-trick
Image: Robert Lewandowski has lifted the Bundesliga and Club World Cup in 2021

Lewandowski has scored 73 goals in just 60 games for Bayern Munich since the start of last season, and won FIFA's and UEFA's men's player of the year awards in 2020.

There are 14 Premier League players on the 30-strong shortlist for the men's award, including four - Jorginho, N'Golo Kante, Mason Mount and Cesar Azpilicueta - who helped Chelsea win the Champions League in May.

Romelu Lukaku, who scored the goals that powered Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in 11 years before he moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer, is also shortlisted.

Jorginho is seen as instrumental in Italy's midfield
Image: Jorginho was key to Chelsea's Champions League win as well as Italy's Euro 2020 triumph

Four England players - Mount, Phil Foden, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling - are in the running after helping the national side to a first major final in 55 years at the Euros this summer.

Also See:

The other nominees based in England are Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Riyad Mahrez, Mohamed Salah, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose five Ballon d'Ors are second only to Messi in the award's history.

The women's Ballon d'Or will also be awarded, with England's Fran Kirby and Ellen White on a shortlist of 20 players.

Ellen White celebrates her goal against Austria
Image: Ellen White has shone for England, Team GB and Manchester City in 2021

Kirby is one of five Chelsea players nominated after they won the Women's Super League and League Cup in 2021, while they also reached their first Champions League final.

Chelsea were beaten in that final by Barcelona, and four members of the Catalans' victorious side are included on the shortlist.

There is no place though for Megan Rapinoe, who is the current holder of the award after winning in 2019.

AP - Megan Rapinoe in action for USA
Image: Megan Rapinoe won the women's Ballon d'Or in 2019 but has not been nominated this year

Those nominated for the men's and women's Ballons d'Or are due to arrive at the red carpet in Paris around 7pm UK time, with the ceremony scheduled to start about 30 minutes later.

The winners of the awards - which are decided by a jury of journalists from around the world - are due to be announced at approximately 9pm.

Men's Ballon d'Or nominees

  • Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
  • Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)
  • Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
  • Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
  • Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
  • Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
  • Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
  • Phil Foden (Manchester City)
  • Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Jorginho (Chelsea)
  • Harry Kane (Tottenham)
  • N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)
  • Simon Kjaer (AC Milan)
  • Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
  • Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
  • Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
  • Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)
  • Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
  • Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
  • Mason Mount (Chelsea)
  • Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Pedri (Barcelona)
  • Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
  • Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
  • Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

Women's Ballon d'Or nominees

  • Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
  • Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea)
  • Marie-Antoinette Katoto (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Sam Kerr (Chelsea)
  • Stina Blackstenius (BK Hacken)
  • Wendie Renard (Lyon)
  • Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage)
  • Pernille Harder (Chelsea)
  • Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
  • Sandra Panos (Barcelona)
  • Lieke Martens (Barcelona)
  • Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)
  • Irene Paredes (Barcelona)
  • Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns)
  • Ellen White (Manchester City)
  • Christiane Endler (Lyon)
  • Jennifer Hermoso (Barcelona)
  • Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
  • Kaddiatou Diani (Paris Saint-Germain)
Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Another Saturday, another chance to win £250,000 with Super 6. Play for free, entries by 3pm.

Around Sky