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Lionel Messi is bidding for a record-extending seventh men’s Ballon d’Or title and will have to beat competition from Cristiano Ronaldo after the pair were named among the 30 nominees for the 2021 award.
Sam Mewis is the only United States women’s national team player to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or Feminin, while Canada’s Olympic gold medal winning team have three players (Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence and Christine Sinclair) on the 20 person shortlist.
Messi’s tally of six awards is more than any other player with only Ronaldo (five) having won more than three.
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The 2021 European Golden Shoe winner was the leading candidate for the Ballon d’Or in 2020 when he spearheaded Bayern’s Treble success, but the award was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Champions League finalists Chelsea and Barcelona lead the nominations for the women’s award with five each. Barcelona, who won the Treble last season, are represented by Alexia Putellas, Sandra Panos, Lieke Martens, Irene Paredes and Jennifer Hermoso.
Magdalena Eriksson, Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder, Fleming and Fran Kirby are nominated for 2020-21 Women’s Super League winners Chelsea.
The Ballon d’Or is a yearly awarded, presided over by France Football. The men’s award was first handed out in 1956 to England’s Stanley Matthews, while the Ballon d’Or Feminin started in 2018 with Lyon‘s Ada Hegerberg the inaugural winner.
It runs parallel with FIFA’s The Best award, which started in 2016, carrying on from the FIFA World Player of the Year which stopped in 2009 as the honours merged for six years to create the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Since 2008, one of Messi and Ronaldo have won the men’s award in every season apart from 2018, when it was awarded to Luka Modric. Last year was the first one since its inception where there was no winner.
Kevin De Bruyne
Ballon d’Or Feminin