Lionel Messi is a serious contender to land the 2021 Ballon d’Or, but the editor of France Football has rubbished “bullsh*t” reports claiming that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar has already been informed of his success.
No Golden Ball was handed out last year, amid a coronavirus-impacted sporting calendar, but a prestigious prize will be presented to someone on November 29.
Argentine icon Messi is considered to be a frontrunner, with some suggesting that he already has his hands on a seventh individual gong in a remarkable career, but those behind the polling insist no victor has been determined as yet.
What has been said?
France Football editor, Pascal Ferre, has told Bild of the Messi speculation: “That's a lot of bullsh*t we've seen in the past 10 days. A big bluff.”
Who are the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or?
Messi has headed betting markets ever since he helped Argentina to end their long wait for international glory at the 2021 Copa America.
Having landed a first senior prize with his country, the 34-year-old playmaker appeared destined to collect another Ballon d’Or.
He does, however, face serious competition for that accolade from a number of other proven performers.
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski claimed the FIFA Best award in 2020 and has maintained remarkable standards in 2021 – hitting 23 goals through 17 appearances this season.
Italy international midfielder Jorginho has seen his claims to a much sought-after piece of silverware talked up after helping the Azzurri to Euro 2020 glory and club side Chelsea to a Champions League crown.
Mohamed Salah has also come into the reckoning on the back of a stunning start to the 2021-22 campaign at Liverpool, with the Egyptian forward registering a number of spectacular strikes as he chases down a third Premier League Golden Boot.
There is, however, nothing that any of the leading candidates can do now to influence the decision-making process.
Votes from international coaches, captains and journalists have already been cast, with a glitzy ceremony to announce the winner set to be staged in Paris at the end of November.