Ballon d'Or 2021 Power Rankings: Dortmund duo on the rise as Messi's hopes fade

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The awarding of the prize was cancelled in 2020 and the world's best players are again making their cases to claim the coveted individual honour

After being cancelled in 2020,  the Ballon d'Or is back, with the great and good of the football world again eyeing the biggest individual honour the game has to offer.

Although the prize will not be handed out until December, performances over the coming weeks will go a long way to deciding who will and won't be in contention to succeed 2019 winner Lionel Messi.

With the season heading into its final couple of weeks before some major summer tournaments, the world's best players are beginning to come to the fore.

So, by using their performances so far, as well as predictions of what is likely still to come in 2021, who holds the most power in this year's race?

Goal ranks the runners and riders...

  1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

    #20 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

    Last time: 20th

    In 2021: 17 goals, one assist.

    Two games, two goals for Salah over the past seven days as the race for the Premier League Golden Boot hots up between he and Harry Kane.

    He is not, however, the goalscorer every Liverpool fan has been hailing over the past 24 hours, with Alisson Becker taking the headlines after his stoppage-time winner at West Brom.

  2. Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

    #19 Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Last time: 18th

    In 2021: Eight goals, six assists. Won Trophee des Champions.

    Not the worst week for PSG, with a place in the Coupe de France final secured and the Ligue 1 title race still not over heading into the final round of fixtures, but without a Champions League final on the horizon, domestic football is something of a damp squib for Mauricio Pochettino's side.

    Neymar will likely be glad when he can switch his attentions to the Copa America in a week's time.

  3. Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

    #18 Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

    Last time: 19th

    In 2021: 12 goals, two assists.

    Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

    Diego Simeone suggested that this was the stage of the season when Suarez would stand up and be counted, and boy did he stand up on Sunday as his late goal secured a crucial come-from-behind win over Osasuna.

    Atletico now know a win over relegation-threatened Real Valladolid on Sunday will see them crowned champions, with Suarez having ensured he will remain the face of their triumph if they get over the line.

  4. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

    #17 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

    Last time: NEW ENTRY

    In 2021: 12 goals, 12 assists. Won DFB-Pokal.

    After a subdued start to the season, Sancho has exploded in the second half of the campaign, with his performance in scoring two goals and providing a further assists in the DFB-Pokal final the crowning moment of his 2020-21 journey.

    It is amazing that there are some in England questioning whether he should be in the squad for Euro 2020. If anything, the debate should be who is good enough to keep him out of the starting XI.

  5. Mason Mount (Chelsea)

    #16 Mason Mount (Chelsea)

    Last time: 16th

    In 2021: Nine goals, three assists.

    A week to forget for Chelsea, who re-opened the door to the Premier League's top-four race with defeat against Arsenal before being beaten by Leicester City in the FA Cup final.

    Mount and his team-mates will hope to bounce back over the next fortnight, with qualifying for next season's Champions League arguably more important than winning this year's competition.

  6. Harry Kane (Tottenham)

    #15 Harry Kane (Tottenham)

    Last time: 15th

    In 2021: 18 goals, four assists.

    Kane continues to warm up for Euro 2020 nicely, with Spurs now in position to sneak a Europa League spot when for a long time it looked like a top-six finish was beyond them.

    That still might not be enough to force Kane to stay, but only time will tell on that front.

  7. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

    #14 Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

    Last time: 14th

    In 2021: Nine goals, six assists. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.

    Mahrez hasn't actually played a Premier League game since April 21, with Pep Guardiola having been keen to save his Algerian wing wizard for cup finals and Champions League knockout games.

    He has, however, still played a key role in City winning their third domestic title in four years, with the ex-Leicester City man now boasting three league winners' medals.

  8. Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

    #13 Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

    Last time: 13th

    In 2021: 14 goals, nine assists.

    Fernandes' hopes of challenging for the Premier League Golden Boot look to be over after Salah and Kane moved clear over the past couple of weeks, with all eyes at Old Trafford now on the Europa League final on May 26.

  9. Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

    #12 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

    Last time: 12th

    In 2021: 21 goals, three assists. Won Supercoppa Italiana.

    Juventus are still not assured of their place in next season's Champions League, but Ronaldo at least stepped up for them over the past week, scoring in their key wins over Sassuolo and Inter.

    The Bianconeri still find themselves on the outside of the top four looking in, but that is not to say that they cannot force themselves back in on the final day of the campaign.

  10. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

    #11 Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

    Last time: 10th

    In 2021: 17 goals, three assists.

    La Liga is still there for Real Madrid if they want to give Zinedine Zidane the perfect send-off, but Atletico's late comeback on Sunday means it is out of the Blancos' hands heading into the final game of the season.

    With no Euros to look forward too, only completing the defence of their title next week will realistically keep Benzema in the race for the Ballon d'Or.

  11. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

    #10 Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

    Last time: 11th

    In 2021: 22 goals, nine assists. Won DFB-Pokal.

    After two games out through injury, Haaland turned up for the DFB-Pokal in the mood for destruction, and Dayot Upamecano just happened to be in the Norwegian's way as he ran riot against RB Leipzig.

    With Dortmund having also secured their place in next season's Champions League, it has been a good week for BVB and their star striker.

  12. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

    #9 Phil Foden (Manchester City)

    Last time: 9th

    In 2021: Nine goals, seven assists. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.

    Foden got a week off after his third Premier League title before the age of 21 was secured, and while he will likely get a run-out between now and the Champions League final to maintain his sharpness, do not expect Guardiola to risk too many of his star men as the domestic season draws to an end.

  13. Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)

    #8 Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)

    Last week: 8th

    In 2021: 14 goals, six assists. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.

    Gundogan was one of City's untouchables who was asked to step out at Newcastle on Friday, and the Germany international was quietly impressive in a slightly withdrawn role.

    The goals aren't flowing anymore, but Gundogan remains a key presence in the City machine.

  14. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

    #7 N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

    Last time: 7th

    In 2021: One assist.

    Kante could only watch as his former side, Leicester, lifted the FA Cup at Wembley, with the France star unable to put his stamp on the game as he has done in other major fixtures in 2021.

    His importance was highlighted, though, by his absence from the defeat against Arsenal that preceded Saturday's final, with the Chelsea midfield unable to control the game as they would normally with their No.7 in there.

  15. Romelu Lukaku (Inter)

    #6 Romelu Lukaku (Inter)

    Last time: 6th

    In 2021: 16 goals, seven assists. Won Serie A.

    A mixed week for Lukaku, who scored in both games that he played but was also found to have broken rules related to Covid-19 after throwing a late-night birthday party between the two fixtures.

    Though the Scudetto is secured, he cannot let his focus slip too much, with Euro 2020 still to come for him this summer.

  16. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

    #5 Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

    Last time: 4th

    In 2021: 28 goals, nine assists. Won Copa del Rey.

    If this is to be Messi's final season at Barcelona, there will be no La Liga trophy to go with it as the Blaugrana - who for a long time in 2021 looked like being title favourites - exited the title race with a whimper.

    Despite a goal from the mercurial Argentine, Celta Vigo came from behind to win in what may prove to be Messi's last home match at Camp Nou, and it would likely sum up his final couple years in Catalunya if that were the case.

  17. Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

    #4 Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

    Last time: 5th

    In 2021: One goal, 17 clean sheets. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.

    Dias was another City star allowed to watch from the bench against Newcastle, but the momentum now seems to be behind the Portugal defender in terms of being named Premier League Player of the Season.

    Given the doubts from some surrounding his arrival at the start of the season, that is quite some statement.

  18. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

    #3 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

    Last time: 3rd

    In 2021: 30 goals, four assists. Won Bundesliga & Club World Cup.

    A memorable week for Lewandowski, who remains very much in the race to win the prize he almost certainly would have taken home had it been awarded in 2020.

    The Poland international is now level with Gerd Muller for the most goals scored in a single Bundesliga campaign (40), and has this weekend's clash against Augsburg left to take the record for himself.

  19. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

    #2 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

    Last time: 2nd

    In 2021: Eight goals, seven assists. Won Premier League & Carabao Cup.

    A minor injury kept De Bruyne out of City's trip to Newcastle but he is not thought to be at risk of missing the Champions League final on May 29.

    After that is Euro 2020, and right now the midfielder looks set to be lining up for the favourites to win both trophies within a matter of weeks.

  20. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

    #1 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Last time: 1st

    In 2021: 26 goals, three assists. Won Trophee des Champions.

    Mbappe netted both PSG goals as they reached the Coupe de France final, and though his performances will not garner the same attention as those he produced in the knockout stages of the Champions League, it is good to see him ticking over again after his injury.

    A domestic double could yet be secured next week, which would provide him with a welcome boost heading into the European Championship; a competition where, right now, it seems like the Ballon d'Or will be won and lost in 2021.