After Luka Modrić ended Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s reign of dominance in 2018, the Argentine wrestled back control of the trophy last year and will definitely have his sights set on adding a seventh to his enormous cabinet.
Let’s take a look at who’s in with a shout of winning this time around.
1. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring
If the key to scooping the Ballon d’Or is scoring a lot of goals, Robert Lewandowski is well on his way to winning.
Averaging more than one goal per game in all competitions this season, the Poland international has taken his ludicrously prolific game to a whole new level. He’s on track to lead Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title and his side are one of the favourites to win the Champions League.
Lewandowski has been in a league of his own this year, and that usually means a Ballon d’Or award isn’t far away.
2. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is the reigning champion
Lionel Messi is Lionel Messi, so that means he demands a place in the Ballon d’Or conversation.
He’s had his fair share of fitness issues, but when he’s been on top form, nobody has been able to stop Messi.
The Barcelona superstar has bagged several hat-tricks and even hit four in a 5-0 win over Eibar, and has kept his team in pursuit of the La Liga title almost single-handedly.
3. Joshua Kimmich
Joshua Kimmich has moved into midfield this season
If all you care about is statistics, Joshua Kimmich isn’t your man. Lewandowski’s goals have been the best part of Bayern’s play this year, but Kimmich’s performances make him a close second.
Anchoring Hansi Flick’s midfield, the German has been outstanding this season, combining his defensive strength with his power and creativity. Kimmich has been the complete package.
The Germany international has finally been given the chance to showcase his skills in midfield, and he’s really repaying Bayern’s faith.
4. Thomas Müller
Thomas Muller set a Bundesliga assist record this season
The final Bayern man on this list, Thomas Müller has hit back at his critics in emphatic fashion.
Many felt as though his time at Bayern was coming to an end, but clearly nobody showed Müller the script. He broke the Bundesliga’s single-season assist record when he bagged his 20th in the 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen and has even hit double figures in goals in all competitions.
Lewandowski has been finishing the chances, but the only reason those chances are arriving is because of Müller.
5. Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland has been outstanding all year
Players who start the season in the Austrian Bundesliga don’t usually go on to win the Ballon d’Or, but Erling Haaland’s outrageous form this year might just change that.
The Norwegian bagged a ludicrous 28 goals in just 22 appearances for Red Bull Salzburg in the first half of the season, including big goals against both Napoli and Liverpool, and has kept that form up since moving to Germany.
Haaland has already hit the ten-goal mark with Borussia Dortmund and is pushing for a top-ten finish in the league’s scoring charts, and he’s only been there since January!
6. Sadio Mané
Sadio Mane celebrates
Sadio Mané’s impressive form often goes under the radar as Mohamed Salah has a habit of stealing the headlines, but the Senegal international is slowly creeping into a league of his own.
Bringing boatloads of goals and assists, Mané has been the full package this season, and he has developed a habit of popping up with goals when his side needs them most.
With Liverpool set to lift the Premier League title, Mané’s case will only grow stronger.
7. Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk has enjoyed another fantastic year
Virgil van Dijk was a Messi away from winning the Ballon d’Or last year – could 2020 be his time?
The Dutchman is still as valuable to Liverpool’s defence, having seen them fall to just one loss in their 29 league games before football was postponed. That’s mental.
Jürgen Klopp’s side are enjoying one of the most impressive defensive seasons in Premier League history, and Van Dijk deserves plenty of the credit for that.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t won the award since 2017
It has been three years since Cristiano Ronaldo got his hands on a Ballon d’Or trophy. He didn’t even go to the ceremony last year, so FIFA will have to make sure he’s in contention this year if they want to see him on the red carpet.
Ronaldo has done a good job of playing his way on to the podium this season, having broken goalscoring records and ensuring Juventus keep one step ahead of Inter in the Serie A title race.
He might need to add the Champions League trophy to his cabinet to boost his chances, but we all know how much Ronaldo loves upping his game in Europe. Challenge accepted.
9. Josip Ilicic
Josip Ilicic scored four against Valencia in the Champions League
Like a fine wine, Josip Iličić continues to get better with age. He was barely known outside of Italy before joining Atalanta in 2017, but he’s making sure people take notice now.
Atalanta have been one of Europe’s most exciting teams, and Iličić’s form has been a huge part of that. Playing just behind the striker has given him the chance to showcase both his goalscoring and his creativity.
Seeing him with the Ballon d’Or would be a neutral’s dream. He’s a real underdog, but don’t pretend you don’t want to see him win.
10. Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is in pursuit of the Premier League assist record | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images
After laughing off so-called Twitter experts and their claims that he was washed up last season, Kevin De Bruyne has come back with a bang this year.
Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in one season is under real threat from the Manchester City man, who has been creating goals at an outstanding rate this year.
If he can lead Pep Guardiola’s side to Champions League glory, this could be his year.