The Ballon d’Or 2021 30-man shortlist was announced by France Football last night. Usual suspects like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho all made it.
However, some players who have had stellar seasons have been left out completely from the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist. These players have been immense for their respective teams and played important roles for their club and country.
Ballon d’Or award to be announced on November 29th
Lionel Messi is the favorite to claim the prestigious individual prize on November 29th this year. He will, however, face stiff competition from the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho.
While the 5 players on the list might not have been favorites, they are definitely among the top 30 players in world football at the moment.
Without further ado, let us take a look at:
5 deserving players who did not make the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist
#5 Casemiro (Real Madrid/Brazil)
One of the best defensive midfielders of this generation, Casemiro had an incredibly consistent year with both Real Madrid and the Brazil national team.
Capable of breaking up play and setting up attacks, the Brazilian midfielder is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Los Blancos.
A leader in the Brazilian national team as well, Casemiro’s performances over the last year definitely merited inclusion in the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist. Casemiro’s presence in the team gives freedom to the likes of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and the rest of the Real Madrid players.
The Brazilian is definitely among the best midfielders in world football at the moment and it is a huge surprise to see his name missing from the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
#4 Emi Martinez (Aston Villa/Argentina)
Argentina’s Copa America 2021 triumph has made Lionel Messi the favorite to win this year’s Ballon d’Or award. One player who played a key role in that triumph was goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
The 29-year-old shotstopper made some crucial saves and was the hero in the penalty shootout which Argentina won against Colombia in the semi-final. One of the best goalkeepers in the world at the moment, Martinez has seen his stock rise exponentially in the last year.
Capable of commanding the box and being a great shot-stopper, Martinez’s heroics for both Aston Villa and Argentina definitely merited a place on the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist.
#3 Federico Chiesa (Juventus/Italy)
5 Italians made the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist, but one big name missed out: Juventus star Federico Chiesa. The 23-year-old forward is full of pace and his direct running and dribbling skills have caused opposition defenses plenty of problems in the last year.
Chiesa played a starring role in Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph, scoring a crucial goal in the semi-final. Arguably Juventus’ best player at the moment, the Italian has every right to be disappointed about missing out.
If Chiesa continues playing in the same vein, he will definitely make plenty of Ballon d’Or shortlists in the future.
#2 Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid/Slovenia)
Atletico Madrid once again got the better of Real Madrid and Barcelona last season in La Liga. Luis Suarez played a crucial role, scoring plenty of important goals for Atletico Madrid.
The man who arguably played an even bigger role in Atletico’s La Liga triumph was goalkeeper Jan Oblak. One of the most consistent goalkeepers in world football at the moment, Oblak has been among the game’s top shot-stoppers for the last 3-4 seasons.
Winner of the La Liga Zamora Trophy in 2021, the Slovenian is an imposing presence between the sticks and is one of the most important players in Diego Simeone’s combative Atletico Madrid side.
Like Emi Martinez, Oblak has also been nominated for the Yachine trophy. However, the Slovenian definitely deserved a spot on the main 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist as well.
#1 Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich/Germany)
Robert Lewandowski was undoubtedly Bayern Munich’s main man last season, but Thomas Muller’s numbers in the 2020-21 season were absolutely brilliant.
The German superstar had 11 goals and 19 assists in 33 Bundesliga appearances last season. His intelligent movement, passing and positioning, opened up space for the likes of Lewandowski and Gnabry to exploit.
This season, Muller has continued where he left off last season and has 4 goal involvements in 7 starts for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. A true Bayern Munich and German legend, the 32-year-old has been in stellar form over the last 12 months.
Muller’s exclusion from the 30-man Ballon d’Or list is frankly baffling.
Honorable mentions: Joshua Kimmich, Toni Kroos, Antonio Rudiger, Koke, Memphis Depay.