Football’s most prestigious individual award, the Ballon d’Or, returns on November 29, with the world’s greatest player for 2021 set to be crowned in Paris.

There are a host of players in contention for the prize and we’ve taken a look at the key men in the running below.

Lionel Messi

No player has got their hands on the Ballon d’Or award more times than Lionel Messi, with the Argentine ace having won the prize a stunning six times. And after a brilliant 2021 to date, he’s the odds-on 8/13 favourite to make it a record-extending seventh victory. It may not have been a year to match some of Messi’s previous bests, but after what felt like an eternity, the forward finally landed his first major international title when he helped Argentina win the 2021 Copa America, while also finishing up as top scorer and player of the tournament in the process. And despite playing in a struggling Barcelona team last season, Messi, who moved to PSG in the summer, also finished up as La Liga’s top scorer.

Robert Lewandowski

When it comes to putting the ball into the back of the net, there is surely nobody better on the planet than Robert Lewandowski. Had the Ballon d’Or been handed out last year, it would likely have been Lewandowski taking it home, and the striker is the 5/2 second favourite for glory this time around. Bayern Munich have been the dominant force in the Bundesliga for a number of years and key to much of that success has been Lewandowski, with his 41 league goals last season firing the club to the title by a mammoth 13 points. Lewandowski’s goals not only won him the Bundesliga’s top scorer award but also the 2020-21 European Golden Shoe.

Mohamed Salah

While Mohamed Salah may struggle to match Messi and Lewandowski’s successes in 2021, there’s no doubt that the Egyptian international is finishing the year stronger than anyone else. Arguably the best player on the planet as it stands, Salah has been in sensational form this term for Liverpool with 15 goals in 12 games, scoring in his last 10 in a row, while also registering an additional five assists. While he hasn’t won any silverware or personal accolades this year, he still managed a rather impressive 31 goals for Liverpool last season, so it’s no surprise to see him at 8/1 as third favourite.

Jorginho

When it comes to winning the game’s top honours, has there been a player who enjoyed a more successful 2021 than Jorginho? The midfield maestro played a vital role in Thomas Tuchel’s midfield as Chelsea won the Champions League under the German, before then playing an equally important part as Roberto Mancini’s Italy went all the way at this year’s European Championship in style. Such success ensures Jorginho sits fourth in the betting for the Ballon d’Or at 9/1.

N’Golo Kante/Karim Benzema

Rounding off the top five are N’Golo Kante and Karim Benzema, who are both priced at 20/1 to take home the Ballon d’Or. Kante has continued to show why he is the arguably the best midfielder in the world when it comes to his position, playing a pivotal role as Chelsea were crowned champions of Europe, while Benzema, despite his advancing years, is still banging in the goals with 30 for Real Madrid last season and another 11 to date so far this term.

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