The Ballon d’Or is back tonight after it was skipped last year, and Lionel Messi has been installed as favourite to win the prize.
The award, presented by French magazine France Football, is considered the highest individual honour in football. It was established in 1956 and was only eligible for European players up until 1995, before voting was opened up to all players at European clubs. From 2007, it became a global award.
The 2020 award was cancelled due to the pandemic as so much football had been missed, much to the disappointment of overwhelming favourite Robert Lewandowski, who was set to win his first golden ball.
Bayern Munich’s Polish striker is among the frontrunners once again, but Messi’s achievement finally winning the Copa America earlier this year has put him top of the pile in this year’s odds. If Messi does win, it would be his seventh Ballon d’Or award, a record tally which would see him move two clear of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas could win the women’s award after a stellar year which included victory in the Champions League. Awards for the best men’s young player (Kopa Trophy) and goalkeeper (Yashin Trophy) will also be handed out.
Here is everything you need to know.
What time is the Ballon d’Or award ceremony?
The ceremony takes place tonight, Monday 29 November, at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris starting from 7.30pm GMT. The ranking will begin by being unveiled at 3.30pm GMT and the ceremony is expected to end around 9pm GMT.
How to watch
Who will win?
Lionel Messi is the favourite for the men’s award and only Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski is considered a close rival in the odds. Cristiano Ronaldo is not in the running after a disappointing Champions League campaign with Juventus and an underwhelming Euro 2020. Chelsea’s Jorginho is considered the standout player from Italy’s winning Euros campaign, and he won the Champions League too, but it is thought Messi will edge him. There are even rumours of a leak on social media with some claiming it has already been confirmed that Messi will win the prize.
Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema lead the charge for the women’s award, which began in 2019. Putellas scored in the final as the all-conquering Barca won the Champions League, while Miedema is both Netherlands and Women’s Super League all-time leading goalscorer and racked up goals at the Olympic Games.
Spain’s Pedri is expected to win the Kopa Trophy for the best men’s young player, while Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy and PSG’s Gianluigi Donnarumma lead the running for the men’s goalkeeper award, the Yashin Trophy.
Lionel Messi 1/3
Robert Lewandowski 2/1
How does voting work?
Originally voted for by journalists, in 2007 the structure of the award was changed to include voting from coaches and captains of national teams around the world, at which point the prize also became open to all players globally rather than just those playing in European leagues – though it has never been won by a player playing outside of Europe.
Each national coach, captain and journalist picks their top three players from the calendar year. The votes are added up, with three points awarded for a top pick, two for a second pick and one point for a third pick.
Who has won the most Ballon d’Or awards?
There are 10 players to have won the prize multiple times, listed below. Germany, Netherlands and Portugal all have seven wins each, while Germany and Italy have the most individual winners – five different players each. Barcelona is the most successful club with 12 wins, though Real Madrid has more individual winners – seven.
Lionel Messi (Arg) – 6
Cristiano Ronaldo (Por) – 5
Michel Platini (Fra) – 3
Johann Cruyff (Ned) – 3
Marco van Basten (Ned) – 3
Franz Beckenbauer (Ger) – 2
Ronaldo (Bra) – 2
Alfredo Di Stefano (Spa) – 2