Former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker Michael Owen believes Robert Lewandowski is worthy of winning the 2021 Ballon d’Or award. Despite a stellar career, 33-year-old Lewandowski has yet to be crowned as the best player in the world. However, he has been named as one of the 30 candidates in this year’s shortlist alongside previous winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Euronews talked only to Owen, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2001, after a season that saw him win three trophies for Liverpool. In spite of their solid campaigns, Owen doesn’t think this year’s grant ought to go to Messi or Ronaldo.
“It’s very open this year. Of course, Messi and Ronaldo over the last decade or so have dominated it. I would say Messi, out of the two of them, is probably ahead of the pair this season for the award, probably because of his exploits with Argentina and winning the trophy at an international level.
With 6 Ballon d’Ors to his name, Messi is the competition’s record holder and the Paris St Germain forward is the favourite to pick up the award once again. With 40 goals and 14 assists, along with Copa America and Golden Boot trophies to his name, the Argentine has had another brilliant season, but Owen is backing Lewandowski:
“I thought Lewandowski was so unfortunate not to win it in the COVID year when it was, it was obviously suspended or cancelled that year, and I would probably go with him. There are other candidates, don’t get me wrong, Mo Salah’s had a great season, although he’s not won anything. Jorginho, on the other hand, for Chelsea, (has) won everything. But I’m not sure he’s potentially good enough to win it ahead of players like Lewandowski, and so I’d probably go with him. He’s won the Bundesliga again. His numbers are quite staggering. His goals in the last year. So I think I’d go for Lewandowski. It would be an absolute crime if he went through his career without winning. He’s a stunning player.”
The German has so distant amassed 54 objectives in 2021, a count higher than any other player in Europe, in spite of the fact that his most eminent accomplishment came back in May when he broke kinsman Gerd Muller’s record of 41 Bundesliga objectives in one season, a number that numerous thought seem never be surpassed.
The Ballon d’Or was founded by France Football in 1956. The publication puts together the 30-man shortlist. Journalists from all over the world vote for their favourite player based on three things:
1. Individual and collective performances during the year
2. Player class
3. Overall judgment of the player’s career
The top-ranking player from each journalist’s selection will receive six points, with the second-ranking player earning four points, then three, two, and one going down from the rest of their top five picks.
Owen retired from football in 2013, and despite winning the English Premier League, two Golden Boot awards, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup, the former striker says the Ballon d’Or is the trophy everyone wants to talk to him about:
“Put it this way, if someone walks into my house now, and they look in the trophy cabinet, the first thing they go to, ahead of the Premier League and FA Cups and anything else, the first thing they look at is the Ballon d’Or.”
In spite of playing completely different alliances, the careers of Owen and Lewandowski have regularly reflected each other. But, like Owen, in case Lewandowski was to win the Ballon d’Or, you’ll be certain it’ll be the primary thing everybody needs to talk to him approximately once he hangs up his boots.
Lionel Messi admitted Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski “deserved to win the Ballon d’Or” in his acceptance speech for the 2021 prize. The Argentine is not the only one to beat the drum for LewanGOALski…
“He’s been so incredibly consistent over the last three years like nobody else,” said Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann of his main man in attack.
Further praise has unsurprisingly come from further up the club chain, with CEO Oliver Kahn stating that “nobody deserves it more than him” and that Lewandowski has “been setting the benchmark for strikers around the world for years”.
It’s a fair assessment given that the man from Warsaw has scored the most club goals in all competitions of any player in one of Europe’s top five leagues in each of the last three calendar years.
But it isn’t just within Munich that there are claims he’s the best. Former Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen and current Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne – a rival for the award this year – has come out to say he would pick Lewandowski.
“If I had to choose myself personally, I’m going to look at a two-year period, because we didn’t have anyone [last year],” the Belgian said. “I’d choose Lewandowski for what he has done in the last two years – goalscoring wise, and also he’s won a lot with Bayern. He would be my pick.”
It’s very difficult to get away from the fact that Lewy missed out in 2020 after the award was cancelled. He was in the midst of helping Bayern to a historic sextuple, having already won the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, UEFA Champions League, DFL Supercup and UEFA Supercup. The FIFA Club World Cup would follow in February.
And the striker also became the first person to win the continental treble while also being top scorer in each competition, with hauls of 34 goals from 31 Bundesliga games, six in five in the cup and 15 in 10 in the Champions League.
But the Ballon d’Or is supposed to be about what players have done over the last year. So, how about earning the Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer in 2020/21, netting 41 goals – from only 29 games – in the Bundesliga and breaking Gerd Müller’s 49-year record?
Or scoring the most goals of any player in a European first division in the calendar year 2021?
Or the most by anyone since this season began?
Or the most in the world for club and country this year?
Or going on a run of 19 club appearances with a goal, a Bayern record?
Or let’s talk about more than goals. The 2-1 victory over Dynamo Kyiv means Lewandowski has become the first player ever to win 21 Champions League games in a row. He’s also only failed to score in three of those, netting 29 times in total – including nine in five this season. The previous group game against Benfica match was also his 100th appearance in the Champions League, marking it with his 79th, 80th and 81st goals – no player has ever scored so many in their first 100 games.
When asked about being in contention for the Ballon d’Or, Lewandowski recognised what his inclusion meant, saying: “It’s a dream to be here and try to win this trophy, because I know how difficult it is. Also for a guy not from a big country – I mean a big footballing country with a great history – but I’m there.”
Despite his remarkable achievements, Lewandowski remains humble and gave a nod to the teammates that have helped him get so far: “I have a good chance to win it, and I’m grateful that I can be up there. I think that my performances – also in 2020 – everything that we did, what I did with my teammates, is enough to be thinking about this.”