Paris, France: Robert Lewandowski threatens to deny Lionel Messi a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or title as the prestigious awards ceremony returns Monday after it was cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
The Bayern Munich and Poland striker pilfered a Bundesliga record 41 goals in just 29 games last season to eclipse the long-standing mark set by the late Gerd Mueller.
Lewandowski, 33, scooped FIFA’s prize for best male player of 2020 and has the backing of both coach Julian Nagelsmann and Bayern team-mate Thomas Mueller after a prolific start to the new campaign.
“‘Lewy’ has to win the thing on Monday when you see the way he is playing at the moment,” Mueller said of a player who has already scored 25 times in 20 appearances this season.
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have combined to win 11 of the past 12 editions of the Ballon d’Or, the lone exception in 2018 when Luka Modric helped Real Madrid to another Champions League triumph and inspired Croatia to the World Cup final.
“Robert deserves to win it, because in my view he has been more unbelievably consistent than any other player,” Nagelsmann said last month in an interview with Munich newspaper Abendzeitung.
While Messi has endured a stop-start beginning to life at Paris Saint-Germain, the Argentine bagged 30 league goals in his farewell season at Barcelona and also won the Copa del Rey.