The Spanish La Liga has dominated the Ballon d’Or winners section over the past 12 years with Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Lionel Messi bagging the award. In 2019, Messi set a new record by securing his sixth Ballon d’Or, all with Barcelona, but he won’t be able to add another accolade to his cabinet with this year’s Ballon d’Or ceremony cancelled by France Football due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, the Argentine would have found it tough to bag the award, given it was his first trophyless season with Barcelona since 2008. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski went on to win another treble of Bundesliga, DFL Pokal Cup and Champions League while contributing a stellar 55 goals and he would have obviously been the favourite.
Let’s have a look at the 2021 Ballon d’Or contenders from La Liga.
Lionel Messi – Barcelona:
The Argentina international has always been in the podium for the Ballon d’Or since 2007 and the 2018 edition was the only surprise where he finished fifth in the final voting.
Messi has been the most consistent player in Europe’s top five leagues over the years and he has netted 40 or more goals in 10 of the previous 11 seasons with the Blaugrana.
Last term was the exception where he struggled with injury concerns at the start of the campaign and he was able to score only 31 goals from 44 matches in all competitions.
Still, he made up for the same by acting as the chief creator and no one else in Europe’s top-five leagues managed more assists than him (27) over the course of the 2019/2020 season.
He has not been at his fluent best this season, but has still bagged six goals and four assists from 11 outings. The Blaugrana have made a tough start to the La Liga campaign where they are already nine points adrift of the leaders and Messi’s prospects of winning the Ballon d’Or may depend on whether they can retain the title and push for potential Champions League glory.
Elsewhere, Messi has been longing for a maiden trophy with Argentina over the course of his career. He has the opportunity to do so through next summer’s Copa America at home.
Brazil will obviously start as the favourites being the defending champions and Argentina’s chances of winning the competition will largely lie on Messi’s showing. Messi would be a genuine favourite for the Ballon d’Or with a maiden silverware with Argentina.
Sergio Ramos – Real Madrid:
Messi’s prime La Liga competition for the Ballon d’Or has been Cristiano Ronaldo over the years, but the Portuguese no longer plys his trade in the league after making the switch to Juventus in 2018.
Hence, the Argentine does not have a direct rival, who can compete with him in terms of goalscoring contributions and that obviously makes him the leading contender for the individual prize.
A defender has not won the accolade since Fabio Cannavaro did so after the 2006 World Cup triumph with Italy, but Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk came close in 2019 when he finished just seven votes behind Messi.
Van Dijk won’t be anywhere near the prize after his long-term injury, but Ramos could be one of the players to watch out for his all-round performances for club and country.
The centre-back has been a terrific servant for Real Madrid over the past 15 years and he had his best scoring season with the Bernabeu giants last term with 13 as the club regained the league title after a three-year wait.
He has been impressive this season as well where he has added three more goals from 10 appearances. That has seen him hit the 100-goal mark which is a hugely impressive feat for a defender.
Ramos has the opportunity to lead Los Blancos and Spain to silverware over the next 12 months. La Roja are one of the favourites for Euro 2020 and success in the continental competition may boost his Ballon d’Or prospects.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com