The Ballon d’Or is back and the world’s best players are making their cases to claim the prize. The award was cancelled in 2020 but will be handed out again in December. Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa are all in contention for the honour. The 2019 winner will be announced at the end of this month.

#1 Lionel Messi (Unattached)

Last time: 1st

In 2021: 33 goals, 14 assists. Won Copa America & Copa del Rey.

Lionel Messi won his first major international trophy with Argentina in the Copa America final. The Argentine was named as the Player of the Tournament and Golden Boot winner at the tournament. He also won the Golden Boot award for his goal against Colombia in the final. Messi will be hoping to win the Ballon d’Or when Argentina face Germany in the World Cup final in December.

#2 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Last time: 2nd

In 2021: 34 goals, four assists. Won Bundesliga & Club World Cup.

Gonzalo Higuain won the Golden Shoe at the Ballon d’Or after winning the Golden Boot award for the best player in Europe’s top leagues. He is likely to be assured of a place in next year’s Ballon de’Or race after finishing ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

#3 Jorginho (Chelsea)

Last time: 15th

In 2021: Five goals, two assists. Won Euro 2020 & Champions League.

Jorginho was not the best player in Chelsea’s run to winning the Champions League, but he played a key role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumphs. The midfielder has been named in the starting lineup for the 2018 World Cup in Brazil.

#4 N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Last time: 3rd

In 2021: One assists. Won Champions League.

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is one of the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or this year. The Frenchman’s performances in the latter stages of the Champions League may be enough to secure him a place in the top three, but it feels as though he is on the outside looking in at the awards.

#5 Romelu Lukaku (Inter)

Last time: 4th

In 2021: 22 goals, seven assists. Won Serie A.

Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku is out of the Ballon d’Or race for a second year in a row. Lukaku will be hoping to lead Belgium to glory at the Euro 2016 finals in Brazil in October.

#6 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

Last time: 5th

In 2021: 29 goals, seven assists. Won Coupe de France & Trophee des Champions.

Mbappe may be the cover star of FIFA 22, but a place on the Ballon d’Or podium is now highly unlikely for the PSG forward after a year of memorable Champions League performances but no major trophies.

#7 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Last time: 6th

In 2021: 10 goals, 10 assists. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.

Aside from the PFA Player of the Year prize, there will be no individual awards for De Bruyne this year, despite continuing to confirm himself as the best creative midfielder on the planet.

#8 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Last time: 7th

In 2021: 27 goals, four assists. Won Coppa Italia & Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo will not be able to ease the pain of Portugal’s early exit from Euro 2020. The Real Madrid forward was named as the new Ballon d’Or winner for the first time in his career on Monday. Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to win the Golden Boot at Euro 2020 after he scored a solitary goal in the 21 defeat by Poland.

#9 Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

Last time: 9th

In 2021: 25 goals, nine assists. Won DFB-Pokal.

Norway striker Kristoffer Haaland will be hoping to make an impact at Euro 2020 and the Copa America in 2020. He is expected to start the new campaign in red-hot form, with a top 10 finish in the race.

#10 Federico Chiesa (Juventus)

Last time: 17th

In 2021: 14 goals, five assists. Won Euro 2020, Coppa Italia & Supercoppa Italiana.

Juventus midfielder Andrea Chiesa is the definition of a big-game player. He was left out of the Italy team for the first two Euro 2020 group games by Roberto Mancini. He could replace Cristiano Ronaldo as Bianconeri’s talisman over the next few years.

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