Chelsea duo to miss Ballon d’Or race

The Ballon d’Or debate rages on ahead of next Monday’s awards ceremony and the identity of this year’s winner seems certain to divide opinion.

Ionel Messi is set to be crowned the world’s best player for the seventh time, although three alternative champions appear to have better title claims in 2021.

The annual Ballon d’Or crowning is due to take place at a gala at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on November 29, with Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi expected to claim the prize again.

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Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or six times. REUTERS / Christian Hartmann

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or six times. REUTERS / Christian Hartmann

It would be tough for the Chelsea duo of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante, as well as Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah also made a late push to clinch the prize after his sensational form in recent months, but an overall form assessment of 2021 could exclude the Egyptian from the race.

Yet in a competition often influenced by the star power of the game’s greatest icons, the remarkable achievements of Jorginho and Kante should not be overlooked.

Firstly, the midfielder duo played a crucial role in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph last May, and then they also enjoyed success on the international stage after victorious performances.

Jorginho took center stage as Italy clinched Euro 2020 glory by beating host England in the final at Wembley Stadium last July, before Kante’s dynamic performances drew the beware when France won the UEFA Nations League last month.

While midfield string-pullers lack the luster of established superstars, former Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit believes Kante doesn’t need the recognition of individual awards to promote his claims to to be one of the best players in the game.

“I can’t find anyone who doesn’t like Kanté,” said Petit, who won the World Cup with France in 1998.

“We love him for the person he is but we also love him for the player he is on the pitch. The way he plays, he’s so focused on his own game, always wants to get the upper hand on his opponent, but always with a smile and humility.

“It’s very rare to see someone like that in society, not just in football, but to find people like that all over the world. He sets an example in many ways.

“He demonstrates honesty, good behavior, commitment and sacrifice. I would have loved to play alongside him and for me no one needs that stupid Ballon d’Or trophy to show how good a player he is.

“This award for the best player in the world makes no sense. Football is a team game, always has been and always will be. Yet every year we have to sit down and celebrate someone who wins an individual award.

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Chelsea's Ngolo Kante with the trophy following his side's UEFA Champions League final victory over Manchester City at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal on Saturday.  Photo: Nick Potts / PA Wire


Chelsea’s Ngolo Kante with the trophy following his side’s UEFA Champions League final victory over Manchester City at Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal on Saturday. Photo: Nick Potts / PA Wire

Chelsea’s Ngolo Kante with the trophy following his side’s UEFA Champions League final victory over Manchester City at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto, Portugal on Saturday. Photo: Nick Potts / PA Wire

“Look at the France team which won the World Cup. They are all talking about trying to win the Ballon d’Or. Who cares about that stupid trophy? This is not football. Only the attackers talk about this trophy.

“Everyone in football should hate this award, but there is so much attention on it. The players know it’s good for their salary, their transfer fees and their careers, so they don’t care about the rewards anymore. team.

Petit’s strong feelings are echoed by Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, who admits he has little interest in Jorginho and Kante’s claims to be known as the best player in the world.

“Do you believe me if I tell you I don’t know who’s on the list for this price?” Said the Chelsea boss.

“I’m not interested in individual awards. What we did last season was teamwork. We reached the Champions League final – a great victory – and that gives us the opportunity to have names on this list (Ballon d’Or).

“We were more than just players, we were a team, almost a group of friends. It was like that. We were a strong club and the guys were a strong team in every game. “

These are words that will resonate with many football fans who have dismissed the desire of individuals to usurp their teammates, with Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba being a clear example of a modern player who aims to promote himself. first and his team second. .

Yet Messi and Ronaldo have helped ensure that this is an award that has been elevated in importance and that has been bolstered at a time when social media presence appears to have become as important as a real one. success on the pitch for too many players.

As far as most of us can remember, the two best players in the world have never hidden their desire to be recognized as the best in the world time and time again over the past 15 years, the media and PR teams promoting their “brand” keen to get their clients listed on individual price lists.

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Italy's Jorginho celebrates after scoring the last penalty in the Euro 2020 soccer championship semi-final match against Spain at Wembley Stadium in London, England on Tuesday July 6, 2021. Jorginho converted the decisive penalty kick Tuesday to give Italy a 4-2 shootout victory over Spain and a place in the European Championship final.  (Fabio Ferrari / LaPresse via AP)


Italy’s Jorginho celebrates after scoring the last penalty in the Euro 2020 soccer championship semi-final match against Spain at Wembley Stadium in London, England on Tuesday July 6, 2021. Jorginho converted the decisive penalty kick Tuesday to give Italy a 4-2 shootout victory over Spain and a place in the European Championship final. (Fabio Ferrari / LaPresse via AP)

Italy’s Jorginho celebrates after scoring the last penalty in the Euro 2020 soccer championship semi-final match against Spain at Wembley Stadium in London, England on Tuesday July 6, 2021. Jorginho converted the decisive penalty kick Tuesday to give Italy a 4-2 shootout victory over Spain and a place in the European Championship final. (Fabio Ferrari / LaPresse via AP)

Jorginho was drawn into the debate after being named UEFA’s Player of the Year in August following his Euro 2020 exploits with Italy.

“Who doesn’t dream of winning the Ballon d’Or? Dreaming small and dreaming big are the same thing, so you better dream big, ”said the 29-year-old Brazilian midfielder.

“It’s not for me to say if I should win the Ballon d’Or, but it would be an incentive for other players to show that not only goals are taken into account.

“I don’t want to have too many expectations, but I would be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t think about it.

“It’s good if it happens, but if it doesn’t, I won’t complain. I keep my feet on the ground and focus on something else, I have already won the title of best player of the year by UEFA.

The unsung heroes of the Chelsea midfielder will take center stage as Tuchel’s side continue their Champions League defense with a heavyweight showdown against Juventus at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

A 1-0 loss in this game’s reserve game in September was one of Chelsea’s most disappointing nights of the otherwise impressive season, with Blues forward Romelu Lukaku pushing to return to action for a match that will be crucial in the fate of Group H of the Champions League.

Chelsea’s victory against a Juve side that have not been at their best this season should see the current kings of European football dominate their group.

It will also be another opportunity for Jorginho and Kante to confirm that they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the modern greats of the game.

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