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The Ballon d’Or is back after being canceled last year due to the pandemic. The 2021 ceremony takes place on 29 November, with Lionel Messi the bookmakers’ favourite to scoop the prize.

Can anyone stop the Argentine magician? Or will Messi win a record seventh Ballon d’Or this year? Let’s take a closer look at all the leading contenders for football’s most prestigious individual award.

📣 #BallonDor@neymarjr, @KMbappe, Lionel Messi and @gigiodonna1 are among the nominated 👏

— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) October 8, 2021

• Lionel Messi (1.44)

Having failed to win last season’s La Liga title with Barcelona, Messi’s Ballon d’Or prospects took a major dent. However, the 34-year-old proved his worth at this summer’s Copa America.

Messi chalked up four goals and five assists on his way to lifting the Copa America trophy and has since become the first South American to score 80 international goals.

Following a wonder-goal against Manchester City in the Champions League, Messi is on course to clinch his seventh Ballon d’Or in November.

• Robert Lewandowski (5.00)

If it weren’t for the pandemic, Robert Lewandowski would have almost certainly won the Ballon d’Or. Yet, the 2020 ceremony was canceled – meaning the Polish striker wasn’t recognised for his efforts.

Although he has bagged 50 goals and eight assists in 2021, along with Bundesliga and Club World Cup titles, Lewandowski may not have done enough to outshine Messi.

• Jorginho (7.50)

Despite failing to add a UEFA Nations League triumph to the Euro 2020 and UEFA Champions League winner’s medals he already claimed this year, Jorginho looks set to secure a podium finish.

The Italian midfielder has been immense for both club and country this year. He might not be the most popular Ballon d’Or candidate, but he thoroughly deserves to be in with a shout.

• N’Golo Kante (9.00)

Although N’Golo Kante has struggled with both injury and illness throughout the opening stages of the current campaign, let’s not forget about what he achieved last season.

The all-action midfielder won both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup with Chelsea last term, enhancing his Ballon d’Or chances.

• Cristiano Ronaldo (15.00)

— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 8, 2021

You simply cannot leave Cristiano Ronaldo out of the equation, can you? By his own high standards, he hasn’t enjoyed a standout year. But he is still the fifth favourite to scoop the prize.

CR7 has clinched five Ballon d’Ors over the years, triumphing in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. A win this year would see him move level with Messi on six titles; you’d be foolish to write him off altogether.