While the actual prize for the best footballer of 2020 will not be handed out until December, each week Goal will be tracking the runners and riders
After a three-month hiatus, the race for the 2020 Ballon d’Or is back up and running, with the world’s best players all vying to get their hands on the most prestigious individual award football can offer.
Lionel Messi is, for the sixth time in his career, the defending champion having picked up the prize in December, but the competition is as fierce as many can remember following the Argentine and Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent dominance.
With the summer’s international tournaments now postponed, the footballing calendar for 2020 looks markedly different than it did at the start of the year, with leagues rushing to end their seasons during a time when transfers would usually be dominating their agendas.
It is hoped that the Champions League and Europa League can be finished in August, and given how much prominence the voters place on performances in those competitions, players who remain in Europe retain the best chances of claiming this year’s Ballon d’Or.
So who are the frontrunners? And which players still have work to do? Our weekly rankings have all the answers…
20 Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich) | Last time: NEW ENTRY
Now playing as a defensive midfielder rather than at right-back, Kimmich has been a steadying presence for Bayern under Hansi Flick.
The Germany international’s stunning chip to beat Borussia Dortmund and all but seal the Bundesliga title means he edges his way into the running for the most prestigious individual honour in the game.
Players dropping out: Sergio Aguero (Man City), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig), Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
19 Sadio Mane (Liverpool) | Last time: 13
Mane and Liverpool will return to action on Sunday as the Reds aim to finish what they started and secure a first Premier League title.
If the Senegal forward can get hot in the final fixtures of the campaign then he may re-enter the consciousness of some judges in the coming weeks.
18 Ciro Immobile (Lazio) | Last time: 18
While Robert Lewandowski may have overtaken him in the running for the European Golden Shoe, Lazio forward Immobile will have the chance to usurp the Pole once more in the coming weeks as Serie A returns.
If he is able to rediscover his touch in front of goal then his side’s shock Scudetto bid may well end in silverware.
17 Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) | Last time: 12
Much has been written about how Fernandes’ form will be impacted by the returns of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford to fitness at Manchester United, but for now the Portugal playmaker remains one of 2020’s shining lights.
Winning the Europa League and helping the Red Devils secure Champions League football would keep him in the running for this prize.
16 Paulo Dybala (Juventus) | Last time: 16
Last summer Juve were happy to let Dybala leave Turin as Manchester United and Tottenham both made bids, but now the Argentine is one of the Bianconeri’s most important players and set for a new contract.
A first trophy of the season could be secured as soon as Wednesday as Maurizio Sarri’s side face Napoli in the Coppa Italia final.
15 Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) | Last time: NEW ENTRY
If Erling Haaland is the breakout star of the whole season, then Davies is the breakout star of 2020.
The Canadian has gone from back-up winger at Bayern to one of the world’s best left-backs, and will likely be in consideration for the big prize if the German champions-elect can end the season with a treble.
14 Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen) | Last time: NEW ENTRY
Set to be one of the hottest properties during the summer transfer window, Havertz has registered 12 goals and seven assists in all competitions since the turn of the year as Leverkusen chase a top-four finish in the Bundesliga.
The Germany international’s form since the break has been sensational, with five goals in as many league games, and he could yet end the campaign by winning both the Europa League and DFB-Pokal.
13 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) | Last time: 15
He may not have kicked a ball in anger since these rankings were last updated, but Henderson’s off-the-field actions during the pandemic have been as impressive as almost anyone at the top of the game.
The Liverpool captain was at the forefront of creating the #PlayersTogether fund that has raised millions for the NHS and has also been part of the group which has pushed for ‘Black Lives Matter’ to adorn the players’ shirts when top-flight action resumes this week.
In England, the impact of a player away from the pitch is taken into account when awarding individual prizes, and as such the favourite for the PFA Player of the Year remains in the running for the biggest prize of them all.
12 Josip Ilicic (Atalanta) | Last time: 10
The break in action could hardly have come at a worse time for Ilicic, with the veteran forward having already netted 14 goals in the first two-and-a-half months of the year.
If he can maintain his form then the Slovenia star could yet fire Atalanta even deeper into the Champions League while helping them qualify for the competition again next season with a top-four finish in Serie A.
11 Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) | Last time: 11
Four goals in six Bundesliga games since football returned suggests Werner has not lost his scoring touch, even if Leipzig’s title hopes have now evaporated.
They do still have the Champions League to look forward to, however, before the Germany forward completes a surprise move to Chelsea later this summer.
10 Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich) | Last time: 9
With just one goal and an assist since football returned in Germany, Gnabry has not made the same headlines as some of his Bayern team-mates in recent weeks.
The Germany winger, however, will be hoping for a strong end to the campaign to help remind the voters of his impressive performances earlier in the year, particularly in the Champions League.
9 Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) | Last time: 8
Injury meant Sancho’s return to action following football’s shutdown was a slow one, but the Dortmund winger was still able to show off his continued development with a first senior hat-trick against Paderborn.
A summer transfer may now await the England international with this campaign set to end without a trophy to show for it.
8 Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) | Last time: 7
For the fourth straight season, Mbappe has played his part in a title-winning campaign in Ligue 1, but the decision to end the French season early and, as such, take the attention away from the young forward, is likely to harm his chances of claiming individual accolades.
The return of the Champions League in August, however, could change that.
7 Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund) | Last time: 6
Haaland might be the breakout star of the European season, but it is almost certain now that the Norwegian whizzkid will end the campaign without a major trophy to show for it.
That said, the Dortmund striker has still been able to take his tally of Bundesliga goals to 11 in 12 games since the restart despite a short spell out with injury.
6 Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) | Last time: 3
Like Mbappe, Neymar is one of the few names on this list to already have a league winner’s medal in his back pocket for the season, but PSG having to spend at least four months on the sidelines following the early curtailment of the Ligue 1 season is certain to hit his chances.
The Brazil playmaker’s hopes lie solely on the Champions League now.
5 Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) | Last time: NEW ENTRY
There was a time when it felt like Muller’s time at Bayern was coming to an end, but there are few who can match his performances in 2020 thus far.
The Germany international has contributed six goals and 11 assists since the turn of the year and earned himself a new contract at the Allianz Arena in the process.
4 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) | Last time: 2
The Premier League lagging behind the other major European leagues coupled with the postponement of Euro 2020 means De Bruyne slips down the rankings for now.
His chances will likely rest on Man City’s progress in the Champions League, but there remains no doubt he has been one of Europe’s finest performers over the course of the campaign.
3 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) | Last time: 4
Ronaldo did not enjoy the return to action he would have hoped for after missing a penalty in Juventus’ draw with AC Milan, but the stalemate did at least secure a place in the Coppa Italia final.
Wednesday’s clash with Napoli offers Juve and their Portuguese talisman an opportunity to win the first of three major trophies this term, and you would not put it past them to take home the lot.
2 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) | Last time: 5
Messi may only have played one match since the restart, but he was still able to contribute a goal and two assists as Barcelona laid down a marker in the Liga title race with their 4-0 win over Mallorca.
The Argentine has now directly contributed to 19 goals since the turn of the year, and while he is in form the Blaugrana cannot be ruled out of the running for trophies at home and on the continent.
1 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) | Last time: 1
Six goals in as many games since football returned in Germany means Lewandowski remains the clear frontrunner, with the Poland international now having netted 45 goals in all competitions this season.
The current leader in the European Golden Shoe race, Lewandowski may well end the campaign with three major trophies as well as individual honours.
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