From Robert Lewandowski being robbed to Mohamed Salah placing seventh – there are arguments about who deserved to be where on the men’s Ballon d’Or rankings.
The 34-year-old Argentina and Paris St-Germain forward hasn’t had a bad year – he’s scored 40 goals in 2021 – 28 for Barcelona, four for PSG and eight for Argentina.
He also picked up his first major international trophy earlier this year when Argentina won the Copa America.
So, what’s the fuss?
Was Lewi robbed?
Lots of critics think that Bayern Munich and Poland striker Lewandowski, who finished second, should have taken home the trophy.
The 33-year-old scored 53 goals in all competitions for Bayern in 2021 and was awarded the Striker of the Year prize. So what does he have to do? Will he always be the bridesmaid?
The 2020 Ballon d’Or was cancelled because of the pandemic, but many felt that he should have been properly recognised then, after an incredible season in which he helped Bayern win a treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German DFB trophy.
In 2021, Bayern added another Bundesliga title, to make it nine in a row, and Lewi even broke legend Gerd Muller’s record of 41 Bundesliga goals in a season.
Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos did not agree at all with the decision to award Messi number one.
Speaking on his podcast, he said: “It’s absolutely not deserved.”
He went on to say, “There is no doubt that Messi, with Cristiano [Ronaldo], has been the player of the last decade, but this year there should’ve been others ahead of him.”
Kroos named his top three as Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema, Lewandowski and Jorginho.
Real Madrid legend Casillas chimed in too, saying: “It is increasingly difficult for me to believe in football awards. Messi is one of the best but you have to know who is the most outstanding player after the season. It’s not that hard.”
Even Messi heaped praise on Lewandowski. Accepting his award, he told the striker, “You deserve your Ballon d’Or. Last year everyone agreed that you were the winner,” adding, “I think France Football should give you your Ballon d’Or. You have to have it in your house.”
Not everyone is a hater
Having said all of that, there was plenty of support for the decision to recognise Messi’s abilities again.
Should Jorginho have been in the top three?
Chelsea’s Italian midfielder Jorginho came third after a trophy-laden 12 months with club and country winning the Champions League and Euro 2020, with Blues team-mate N’Golo Kante in fifth place.
And, yet, he still has his detractors.
What happened to Mohamed Salah?
Salah has been called the world’s current best player by a number of pundits this season and his Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. And yet he only finished seventh in the Ballon d’Or vote, one place behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
Klopp was surprised that the Egyptian didn’t get more votes.
“Mo definitely should have been higher up,” the German said on Tuesday and blamed the media.
“Is the Ballon d’Or a journalists vote? Then yeah, don’t ask me, it’s your fault! If you think he should be higher up, then you should convince your colleagues,” he said.
Klopp also weighed in on Lewandowski missing out.
“You can give it to Lionel Messi for the career he has had, all these kind of things, but then don’t give it to Robert Lewandowski this time – so it’s quite tricky to win it at all.”
Did women get ignored?
Another major criticism was the decision to hold the awards during an international break in women’s football, which meant that a lot of top players were unable to attend.
Plus, Canadian international Stephanie Labbe wasn’t keen on Ronaldo being described as the leading international goal-scorer during the ceremony. Her team-mate Christine Sinclair actually holds the record with 188 goals for Canada.
Who decided it would be a good idea to show this photo of Ronaldo in his undercrackers?
We have a feeling that Twitter will not know peace over this year’s Ballon d’Or results for some time…