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Sun. May 22nd, 2022

Sky Sports.

The Ballon d’Or will be handed out for the first time in two years tonight, with Lionel Messi the strong favourite to claim the men’s award for a record seventh time at the ceremony in Paris.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward ended his long wait for a major international trophy when he helped Argentina win the Copa America in the summer, while he also guided Barcelona to Copa del Rey glory before moving to the French capital in August.

Messi’s likely closest challenger for the trophy is Robert Lewandowski, who was the favourite in 2020 before the awards were cancelled because of Covid.

Lewandowski has scored 73 goals in just 60 games for Bayern Munich since the start of last season, and won FIFA’s and UEFA’s men’s player of the year awards in 2020.

There are 14 Premier League players on the 30-strong shortlist for the men’s award, including four – Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount and Cesar Azpilicueta – who helped Chelsea win the Champions League in May.

Romelu Lukaku, who scored the goals that powered Inter Milan to their first Serie A title in 11 years before he moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer, is also shortlisted.

Four England players – Mount, Phil Foden, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling – are in the running after helping the national side to a first major final in 55 years at the Euros this summer.

The other nominees based in England are Kevin De Bruyne, Ruben Dias, Riyad Mahrez, Mohamed Salah, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo, whose five Ballon d’Ors are second only to Messi in the award’s history.

By Nwosu Chizoba David

Nwosu Chizoba David is a soccer lover and writer. He is a graduate of Biological Sciences, presently teaching in a secondary in Lagos.

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