After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ballon d’Or is returning. The most prestigious individual trophy in world football will be awarded on Monday, Nov. 29 in a ceremony that will take place at the Châtelet Theatre in Paris.

Leo Messi - Ballon d'Or
Leo Messi won the Ballon d’Or in 2019 for a record sixth time. (Image: Twitter/LEquipe)

Nominees for both the men’s and women’s Ballon d’Or will be announced on Friday, Oct. 8. Nominees for the Kopa Trophy for the best young player, and the Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper, will be revealed simultaneously by L’Equipe and France Football’s media platforms. There will be 30 nominees for the men’s Ballon d’Or and 20 for the women’s version of the accolade.

The jury for the men’s trophy will consist of 180 international journalists representing countries all around the world. The jury for the women’s Ballon d’Or will see 50 journalists who are experts in the women’s game. There will be 10 nominees for the Kopa and Yashin trophies. The Kopa will be decided by previous Ballon d’Or winners, while the Yashin will have the same international jury as the men’s Ballon d’Or.

The 65th Ballon d’Or ceremony will be hosted by former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and by French journalist Sandy Heribert.

Messi the favorite in 2021

Lionel Messi is the bookies’ favorite to win the Ballon d’Or this year. The Argentinean scored at a non-stop rate for Barcelona in the first part of the year, then went on to win the Copa America for the first time in his career with his national team. Messi, a record six-time Ballon d’Or winner, currently stands at -278 to add to his collection.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), the big favorite for the unawarded 2020 trophy, comes second at +500, with Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho at +650. A Champions League winner with Chelsea, N’Golo Kante of France is next at +800.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Man. United and Portugal) is only fifth on the favorites list at +1400. Kylian Mbappe (PSG and France) and Kevin De Bruyne (Man. City and Belgium) are next at +1600, with Kane below at +2000. Norwegian sensation Erling Haaland is nowhere near the top at +3300.

The last Ballon d’Or given out was handed to Messi in 2019. Apart from his six wins, Messi also came second on five occasions. Ronaldo won it five times, being the runner-up on six occasions. The two dominate the Ballon d’Or history records, with Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco Van Basten below with three trophies each.