You can debate whether Jorginho was ever a ‘realistic’ contender for the Ballon d’Or, but you cannot debate his influence in two silverware winning sides. After struggling under Frank Lampard, the midfielder became crucial Thomas Tuchel and conducted play beautifully as Chelsea won the Champions League. He was also everpresent for Italy who impressed at every stage on their way to securing Euro 2020 glory – that’s no coincidence.
4. Kylian Mbappé
We often forget how absurdly talented Kylian Mbappé is because his consistency has been normalised.
But this is a player who won his third Ligue 1 golden boot in May – before turning 23 – and also became the youngest player to score 30 Champions League goals in December.
Records will continue to be broken and he continues to shine in a star-studded Paris Saint-Germain side.
3. Karim Benzema
In terms of trophies, it wasn’t the most productive year for Karim Benzema but his performances only seemed to get better. He is the definition of an all-round centre forward, scoring 43 goals and assisting 14 across the calendar year, with his finishing and technique on display every week.
2. Robert Lewandowski
It’s pretty ridiculous that Robert Lewandowski doesn’t have a Ballon d’Or for his efforts over the last two years but we’re here to give him his flowers. The Bayern Munich striker was influential in his side winning another Bundesliga title, while he also broke Gerd Müller’s 49-year record of most top flight goals scored in a calendar year. Breaking his numbers down even further, he bagged 64 goals and 10 assists across all competitions to prove his worth as the best centre forward in football.
1. Lionel Messi
Things haven’t quite gone to plan at Paris Saint-Germain but just like in the Ballon d’Or rankings, Lionel Messi has edged his way into first place. After his superhuman last six months at Barcelona – in which he won the Copa del Rey – before winning the Copa America with his beloved Argentina in July.