Lionel Messi has revealed his four main candidates for the 2021 Ballon d’Or award, with the Argentine name-checking two teammates.
On Friday Messi, along with a slew of world-class talent, was confirmed on the 30-man France Football shortlist for the prize.
The 34-year-old is vying to win the coveted gong for the seventh time in his career after producing another scintillating goalscoring season in a poor Barcelona side in his final season
On the international stage, Messi captained Argentina to a long-awaited Copa America triumph in the summer, winning both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards.
But the 2019 winner is aware of the strong competition he faces this year, picking out PSG colleagues Neymar and Mbappe as contenders, as well as Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema – two of the deadliest strikers in the game.
“In my team, there are two for whom I will easily vote: Neymar and Kylian Mbappé,” Messi told France Football.
And then Robert Lewandowski, who has just had a great year and Karim Benzema who was excellent.”
Created by journalist Gabriel Hanot in 1956, the Ballon d’Or has been handed out yearly to the world’s best player
Football journalists, coaches and captains of national teams all have a say in proceedings – with this year’s winner to be announced 29 November at Paris’ Theatre du Chatelet.
For the first time since its inception, the Ballon d’Or was not awarded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many felt Bayern marksman Robert Lewandowski was robbed.
The Polish international has continued in the same vein, however, and has 50 goals in 2021 so far.
Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is one of 14 Premier League players on the shortlist.
Five members of Italy’s Euro 2020 heroes are in contention, including Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, who won the Champions League and Euros just months apart earlier this year
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