France Football’s Ballon d’Or is one of the most prestigious individual awards a footballer can receive. Since its inception in 1956, the Ballon d’Or award has been won by some of the game’s greatest players. To name a few, notable examples include Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michel Platini, and Marco van Basten.
The 30-man shortlist for the 2021 edition of the award includes several world-class players. Meanwhile, the odds for this year’s Ballon d’Or nominees have been released by Draft Kings. On that note, here are the eight players with the best odds to win this year’s Ballon d’Or on November 29th, 2021.
Number 8: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/Belgium) +2500 odds
Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best active players who have yet to win the Ballon d’Or.
The midfield metronome for Manchester City had another memorable year. Due to an injury-plagued campaign, he did not put up the kind of numbers he has in the past few seasons. Nonetheless, De Bruyne’s nine goals and 16 assists across all competitions aided City’s first Premier League title in four years. City also advanced to their first Champions League final.
During the season, he became the player with the most Premier League assists in the shortest amount of time.
Kevin De Bruyne became the fastest player in Premier League history to reach 50 Premier League assists.
In 2019/20, he became the first player in Premier League history to create 100 or more chances from open play in a single season.
De Bruyne scored once and assisted twice for Belgium in four games, but the Red Devils were defeated in the final by eventual champions Italy. He had three assists in the Nations League finals as Belgium lost to Italy in the third-place playoff.
Given his performances this season, De Bruyne should finish high in the 2021 Ballon d’Or rankings; however, a podium finish is unlikely.
Number 7: Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United/Portugal). +2500 odds
Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, has had another outstanding season for both club and country. However, his lack of a major title may jeopardize his chances of winning a sixth to tie Lionel Messi (more on him later).
He won his first Capocannonieri award with 29 goals, but Juventus failed to defend their Serie A title. Ronaldo did, however, win the Coppa Italia earlier this year.
Ronaldo scored five goals for Portugal at Euro 2020, earning him the Golden Boot award despite the fact that the hosts were eliminated in the Round of 16. After scoring a brace in a FIFA World Cup qualifier a few weeks later, he became the most prolific scorer in men’s international football.
His double gives him 111 goals for Portugal, breaking Ali Daei’s Iran record of 109.
This summer, Ronaldo returned to Manchester United, where he won his first Ballon d’Or more than a decade ago. He has made an immediate impact, scoring six goals across all competitions, but United are currently on a losing streak.
Ronaldo is unlikely to win his sixth Ballon d’Or in 2021 because he did not win any major titles this year.
Number 6: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/France) +1500 odds
Karim Benzema is the sixth-best bet to win the Ballon d’Or in 2021. After spending nearly a decade in Ronaldo’s shadow, the Frenchman has led the line admirably for Real Madrid over the years.
For the third consecutive season, he scored at least 20 league goals as holders Real Madrid were narrowly beaten to the La Liga title by Atletico Madrid. Benzema scored six goals in the Champions League as the 13-time champions reached their first semi-final in three years.
For the first time in six years, Benzema scored four goals in his return to international football at Euro 2020. On the other hand, France was eliminated in the Round of 16. The Frenchman went on to win the Nations League by scoring in both the semi-final and final.
Benzema has had a fantastic start to the season, with 11 goals and eight assists across all competitions.
However, a lack of major titles with club and country may jeopardize his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or in 2021.
Number 5: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/France) +1400odds
This year, N’Golo Kante has been a standout performer for both club and country. Kante, widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the game right now, was instrumental in Chelsea’s 2021-21 Champions League victory.
In the final against Manchester City, he completed 100 percent of his tackles and all of his take-ons.
He played four games for France at Euro 2020 but was unable to play in their Nations League victory due to injury. Nonetheless, his stellar performances this year were enough to put him in the running for the Ballon d’Or.
It remains to be seen whether he will go on to win the prestigious award.
Number 4: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool/Egypt) +1200 odds
On current form, there are very few players better than Mohamed Salah. This season, the Egyptian has made 22 goal contributions (17 goals, five assists) across competitions.
If the Ballon d’Or award were solely based on a player’s statistics, Salah would have won without batting an eyelid this year. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Salah had a strong finish to his previous season as well, scoring 22 goals as holders Liverpool finished third.
Despite his impressive statistics, Salah has yet to win a title for his club or country this season. As a result, he is an unlikely winner of the Ballon d’Or in 2021.
Number 3: Jorginho (Chelsea/Italy) 3rd: +800 odds
Jorginho is a strong candidate for the Ballon d’Or in 2021. That’s because the Italian joined a select group of players who have won both the Champions League and the European Championship in the same season.
Jorginho is a key player in midfield for both club and country, despite his lack of open-play goals. He sets the tempo of games and is an excellent penalty taker. Given his outstanding performances, the Italian became the first Chelsea player to be named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year.
Jorginho is unquestionably a frontrunner for this year’s Ballon d’Or award. However, it remains to be seen whether voters will choose team awards, personal awards, or a combination of both to determine this year’s winner.
Jorginho remains an unlikely winner of the Ballon d’Or, which has been dominated by attackers in recent years, despite his relative lack of goal contributions.
Number 3: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/Poland) +250 odds
Robert Lewandowski is maturing like a fine wine. Bayern Munich’s prolific play broke the late Gerd Muller’s record for most goals (40) in a Bundesliga season, propelling Bayern to a ninth consecutive Bundesliga title.
This season, the 33-year-old has already scored 15 goals in all competitions as Bayern leads both the Bundesliga and their Champions League group.
This year, Lewandowski has also been on fire for Poland, scoring nine competitive goals, three of which came at Euro 2020.
He had a fantastic year in 2020, contributing significantly to Bayern Munich’s continental treble-winning campaign. However, the Ballon d’Or award was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially depriving Lewandowski of the prestigious honor.
Given his stellar performances last year and in 2021, it will not be surprising to see the Pole named Ballon d’Or winner in 2021.
Number 1: Lionel Messi (PSG/Argentina): -175 odds
Lionel Messi, who else? Despite failing to win the league title for the second year, the Argentine had another spectacular individual season, winning a record-extending eighth Pichichi award (scoring 30 goals).
And, yes, he has a negative chance of winning the Ballon d’Or in 2021. All the other players on the shortlist have positive odds, meaning Messi has the best chance of winning the prestigious award this year.
Messi then took the lead, scoring four goals and providing five assists in the Copa America 2021 to end Argentina’s nearly three-decade trophy drought. After three final heartbreaks, Messi won his first title with Argentina, as well as the Player of the Tournament award.
Messi has had a quiet start to his career at PSG since joining the Ligue 1 club this summer. He has yet to score in Ligue 1 in five games, but he has scored three times in the Champions League this season.
Nonetheless, Messi may have done enough to hold off the competition and win a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or.
Barring an unlikely winner like Luka Modric in 2018, Messi could be crowned Ballon d’Or winner for 2021 next month.