Ballon d'Or 2020 Power Rankings: Messi, Ronaldo and contenders who could have won the award

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While the prize for the best footballer of 2020 will not be handed out due to Covid-19, who would've been the favourite if it hadn't been cancelled?

The awarding of the Ballon d'Or has become one of the biggest nights in the footballing calendar, with winning the prize seen by players as the pinnacle of excellence in the sport.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the award in the 21st century, winning it 11 times between them in the last 12 years.

Messi is the current holder after claiming his sixth Ballon d'Or back in December, and the Argentine will now continue his defence through to 2021 after France Football announced the prize would not be awarded in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If that decision had not been made, who would have been in contention? Goal takes a look at those who were in with a shout...

  1. Timo Werner (RB Leipzig/Chelsea)

    #20 Timo Werner (RB Leipzig/Chelsea)

    In 2020: 11 goals, three assists.

    While Werner's second half of the season did not quite hit the heights of the first half, he has still enjoyed a stellar 2020 and certainly would have been in the mind of some judges come December in normal circumstances.

    His numbers compare favourably to those above him, but his decision to reject the chance to play in the latter stages of the Champions League for Leipzig would have cost him vital exposure in the biggest competition still on the calendar for the year.

  2. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
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    #19 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

    In 2020: Three goals, three assists. Won Premier League.

    Though Henderson's raw numbers pale in comparison to the other contenders on the list, his leadership of Liverpool as they won their first title in 30 years cannot be underestimated.

    At one time the favourite for the PFA Player of the Year in England, the midfielder from Sunderland continues to answer his critics at Anfield.

  3. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
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    #18 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

    In 2020: Seven goals, two assists. Won Carabao Cup

    After a slow start to 2020, Sterling has rediscovered his best form since football returned post-lockdown.

    A defeat to Arsenal in the semi-finals of the FA Cup saw City's hopes of a treble extinguished, but being in a favourable position to advance in the Champions League means the likes of Sterling still had opporutunties to impress voters on the biggest stage.

  4. Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
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    #17 Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)

    In 2020: Two goals, four assists, 12 clean sheets. Won Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.

    One of the breakout stars of the European season, Davies has gone from being an exciting option as back-up winger for Bayern to their first-choice left-back.

    The Canada international's electric pace, tough tackling and excellent crossing ability make him the full package in the modern game, and he is one of a number of Bayern players who many are predicting will end the year with treble success.

  5. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
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    #16 Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

    In 2020: Seven goals, one assist. Won Premier League.

    Many onlookers rate Mane as the best of the Liverpool bunch this term, with the Senegal international having cemented himself among the group of players just below Messi and Ronaldo.

    Like many of his team-mates, Liverpool's early exit from the Champions League means he can go no higher in this list, but he can still be proud of his efforts in securing a first league title for 30 years at Anfield.

  6. Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
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    #15 Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)

    In 2020: 14 goals, eight assists.

    Fans in Germany have long known about Havertz's potential, but 2020 feels like the year in which he emerged into the wider conciousness after racking up goals and assists at a superb rate for Leverkusen.

    He now looks set to leave the BayArena this summer - most likely for Chelsea - though it remains to be seen if he will first stick around and try and win the Europa League first.

  7. Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
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    #14 Paulo Dybala (Juventus)

    In 2020: Eight goals, eight assists.

    Juventus did all they could to sell Dybala in the summer of 2019, with both Manchester United and Tottenham coming close to bringing the Argentina international to the Premier League.

    Their loss has been the Bianconeri's gain, however, with Dybala now enjoying a new lease of life under Maurizio Sarri as Juve close in on yet another Serie A title.

  8. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
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    #13 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

    In 2020: Eight goals, seven assists.

    England international Sancho had another superb campaign at Dortmund, with it easy to forget that he only recently turned 20.

    Whether 2019-20 proves to be his final season in the Bundesliga remains to be seen, but he can certainly leave with his head held high and his reputation massively enhanced.

  9. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
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    #12 Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

    In 2020: Nine goals, eight assists.

    Fernandes has turned Manchester United's fortunes around almost on his own, with the Portugal international inspiring the Red Devils to the cusp of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

    They are also the favourites to win the Europa League, though they saw their hopes of winning the FA Cup ended by Chelsea on Sunday.

  10. Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)
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    #11 Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich)

    In 2020: Nine goals, five assists. Won Bundesliga & DFB-Pokal.

    A key player for both club and country, Gnabry has come a long way since leaving Arsenal behind to return to Germany in 2016.

    He is one of the players of the season in the Champions League and, if he would have recaptured that form in August, could have been well in contention for the Ballon d'Or in December.

  11. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
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    #10 Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

    In 2020: Eight goals, one assist, nine clean sheets. Won La Liga and Supercopa de Espana.

    Real Madrid's first Spanish title since 2017 was built on a defence that was marshalled superbly by Ramos as he enjoyed his most consistent campaign for some time.

    It was his goalscoring exploits towards the end of the season, though, that moved him up this list as he found the net on a number of occasions during the run-in.

  12. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
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    #9 Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

    In 2020: 16 goals, three assists.

    The breakthrough star of the season, Haaland has taken to top-level football better than almost anyone in the last decade, with the Norwegian a relentless goalscoring machine.

    Dortmund's failure to reach the latter stages of the Champions League means he cannot be any higher on the list, but he certainly made a strong case otherwise.

  13. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
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    #8 Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

    In 2020: Seven goals, 12 assists. Won Bundesliga & DFB-Pokal

    Muller seemed to be on his way out of Bayern during the first half of the season as he struggled to make much of an impact under Niko Kovac.

    The Croatian's sacking and the subsequent hiring of Hansi Flick, however, gave the Germanl a new lease of life as he helped turn the Bavarians' campaign around and make them into the favourites to win the Champions League.

  14. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
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    #7 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

    In 2020: 12 goals, eight assists. Won Ligue 1.

    Mbappe's chances of claiming a first Ballon d'Or were boosted recently after PSG found themselves in the "easier" side of the Champions League draw, with Atalanta and one of Atletico Madrid or RB Leipzig standing between them and a European final.

    The decision to play both domestic French cup finals also plays into his hands, with the Ligue 1 champions suddenly on course to win a quadruple after five months with no games.

  15. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
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    #6 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

    In 2020: Six goals, eight assists. Won Carabao Cup.

    The standout individual performer in the Premier League this term, De Bruyne is blameless when it comes to Man City's failure to defend their title this term.

    His performance at Santiago Bernabeu to beat Real Madrid has left Pep Guardiola's side in a strong position to advance to the last eight, meaning he still had the chance to close the gap on the Ballon d'Or favourites.

  16. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
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    #5 Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

    In 2020: Nine goals, four assists. Won Ligue 1.

    Will Neymar ever get a better chance to win the Ballon d'Or?

    The Brazil star led PSG past Dortmund in the last 16 of the Champions League, is in a team chasing a quadruple and faces a path to the Champions League final that does not contain any of Europe's big hitters.

    Maybe the ex-Barcelona is destined not to win football's biggest individual honour.

  17. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
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    #4 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

    In 2020: 10 goals, four assists. Won La Liga and Supercopa de Espana.

    The leading light in Madrid's title success, Benzema is enjoying the best prolonged spell of form of his career in the Spanish capital.

    Despite a dry spell over the winter, he still ended the campaign with 21 league goals, and will be crucial in turning around their Champions League tie with Man City.

  18. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
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    #3 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

    In 2020: 15 goals, 17 assists.

    The top scorer in La Liga, the most assists ever in La Liga and more goal contributions in 2020 than any other player on this list, and yet Messi finds himself in third?

    The Ballon d'Or holder's chances of claiming a seventh prize were hit by both Barcelona's failure to win La Liga and their poor form meaning they likely would have needed to raise their game hugely to challenge for the Champions League.

  19. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
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    #2 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

    In 2020: 20 goals, five assists.

    Before last week's draw with Sassuolo, Ronaldo had either scored or assisted in every one of Juventus' Serie A matches in 2020 as they march almost unopposed towards another Scudetto.

    Failure to win the Coppa Italia and being behind against Lyon in their Champions League last-16 tie means Ronaldo cannot top the list right now, but he would certainly be in the running for the top prize if it were being awarded.

  20. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
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    #1 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

    In 2020: 21 goals, four assists. Won Bundesliga & DFB Pokal.

    No player can feel more hard done by when it comes to the decision to cancel the Ballon d'Or than Lewandowski.

    The Poland international has been in blistering form in 2020, having fired Bayern to a domestic double while helping make them the favourites to win the Champions League.

    At the age of 31, he may not get a better chance of claiming the ultimate individual prize.