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Who Will Win the 2020 FIFA Men’s Player of the Year Award?

| December 3, 2020 10:56 am PDT
FIFA Men’s Player of the Year Award 2020

The 11-man shortlist for the 2020 FIFA Men’s Player of the Year award has been announced, and unsurprisingly, goal-machine Robert Lewandowski is the bookmakers’ favorite to scoop the prize.

This year, the award will be judged on performances and achievements between July 20, 2019, and October 7, 2020, with fans, journalists, national team coaches, and captains all able to vote.

The winner of the award will be announced on December 17.

Many of the leading online betting sites are offering odds for this market. Let’s check out the bookies’ prices before taking a closer look at the frontrunners.

As expected, Lewandowski (1.33) leads the way. It is also no surprise to see serial-winners Cristiano Ronaldo (7.00) and Lionel Messi (11.00) high up on the list.

Following a record-breaking 2019/20 campaign, three Liverpool players are in contention. Fellow EPL star Kevin De Bruyne (21.00) also features, alongside PSG duo Kylian Mbappe (17.00) and Neymar (26.00).

I assess the favorites’ chances below.

Robert Lewandowski (1.33)

It’s safe to say that Robert Lewandoski would have been pretty upset when he found out that the Ballon d’Or would not be handed out in 2020.

There is no denying that the Ballon d’Or is the most prestigious individual accolade in world soccer, but due to the pandemic’s impact on the season, France Football – the organization that runs the ceremony – decided that it wouldn’t be fair to present the award this year.

Still, Lewandowski is the bookmakers’ clear favorite to be crowned the 2020 Men’s Player of the Year – and I don’t think anybody can argue with that.

The Bayern Munich striker has always scored goals at a rapid rate, but over the past 18 months, he has taken his game to another level.

Now widely regarded as the best number 9 on the planet, Lewandowski fired the Bavarians to their remarkable 2019/20 treble-winning season, clinching the UEFA Champions League, the Bundesliga title, and the German Cup.

Oh, and let’s not forget that he was the top scorer in all three competitions.

The Poland international racked up an unrivaled 55 goals in 47 appearances last term, including 15 goals in ten UCL outings. He also averaged over a goal per game in the Bundesliga, finishing the campaign with 34 goals in 31 league matches.

I could bore you to death with the stats. But do I really need to say any more?

Cristiano Ronaldo (7.00)

Even at the ripe old age of 35, Cristiano Ronaldo is still breaking records.

The Portuguese megastar netted 31 goals in 33 Serie A appearances in 2019/20 as Juventus secured an unprecedented ninth straight Scudetto. In the process, he became the first player in history to reach a half-century of goals in the EPL, La Liga, and Serie A.

Pretty impressive, right?

Many questioned Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus in 2018, with critics claiming that the forward was past his best. Sure, he may no longer be at the peak of his powers, but he is still one of the most dangerous players in world soccer.

Unfortunately, Ronaldo wasn’t able to guide his side to European glory this year. Despite bagging a brace in the second leg of Juventus’ Round of 16 clash with Lyon back in August, the Bianconeri failed to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

It goes without saying that if Juventus had reached the latter stages of the UCL, Ronaldo would be a lot closer to Lewandowski on the bookies’ odds list.

Lionel Messi (11.00)

Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest soccer player of all time. I mean, he is in my top three, for sure. But his inclusion on this year’s POTY shortlist baffles me a bit.

We all know what Messi is capable of. The Argentine magician notched up a phenomenal 47 goal involvements in La Liga last term, finishing at the top of the scoring charts (25) and the assist charts (22).

But by his own high standards, Messi has not enjoyed his greatest year. He will be the first to admit that.

In July, Messi, and co. surrendered the La Liga title to arch-rivals Real Madrid. Less than a month later, Barcelona was totally humiliated by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, losing 8-2 to the eventual champions.

Of course, Messi tried his best to lead the Catalans to domestic and European success. But as the well-documented off-field issues continued to rumble on at Camp Nou, the 33-year-old was unable to carry the team.

Barca has also made a below-par start to the 2020/21 campaign, with their star player’s future up in the air. Messi may be the G.O.A.T, but there are definitely more worthy winners of this particular award.

Kylian Mbappe (17.00)

It feels like Kylian Mbappe has been around forever, doesn’t it? Well, believe it or not, the highly-rated forward is still just 21.

Not only does the PSG prodigy already have four Ligue 1 titles under his belt, but he also boasts a World Cup winner’s medal. Mbappe scored four goals as he spearheaded France’s triumph in Russia back in 2018.

Mbappe has only enhanced his glowing reputation over the past year. He finished as the joint-top scorer in Ligue 1 before the 2019/20 campaign was curtailed. He then guided PSG all the way to the final of the Champions League, although Bayern Munich eventually edged the Parisians 1-0.

The speedy attacker contributed a highly commendable five goals and six assists in ten UCL appearances last term, despite only making six starts in the competition.

It could be argued that Mbappe’s Champions League exploits put him ahead of Ronaldo and Messi in the POTY pecking order.

The PSG star has made a flying start to the current campaign, too. With nine goals and five assists in his first 11 outings this season, there is no doubting Mbappe’s talents.

Kevin De Bruyne (21.00)

It’s difficult to think of a more complete attacking midfielder than Kevin De Bruyne.

Despite finishing ten goals behind Jamie Vardy in the Golden Boot race, the Belgian still managed to top the 2019/20 EPL goal involvement charts. That’s because he racked up an outrageous 20 assists – seven more than his nearest challenger, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Manchester City may have missed out on the Premier League title, as well as falling short in the Champions League, yet nobody can question De Bruyne’s efforts.

The midfield maestro put on a masterclass at the Bernabeu back in February, scoring and assisting as Man City came from behind to beat Real Madrid in the UCL Round of 16. He also got on the scoresheet in the quarter-finals, although he was unable to prevent his team from losing to Lyon.

At 21.00, De Bruyne is a longshot. However, he certainly wouldn’t look out of place with the POTY trophy in his hands.

Can Anyone Else Win the Award?

Thiago Alcantara has enjoyed a hugely successful year. Along with Lewandowski, the Spaniard played a pivotal role in Bayern’s treble-winning season. Thiago was a standout player for Die Roten, but it cannot be denied that he played a supporting role in the Lewandowski show.

Sergio Ramos also deserves a mention. The goalscoring defender helped Real Madrid to clinch the La Liga title last term, netting six times in his final ten appearances in 2019/20. He also recently scored his 100th goal for Los Blancos – and he’s a center-back!

After reaching the Champions League final with PSG, Neymar will be hoping to be recognized for his achievements. But having missed a large portion of the last 12 months through injury, I can’t see him challenging the POTY frontrunners.

Liverpool trio Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Virgil van Dijk complete the shortlist. They led the Reds to Club World Cup and EPL glory earlier in the year, but after crashing out of the UCL in the Round of 16, it will be tough for a Liverpool player to scoop a coveted individual prize in 2020.

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, Lewandowski is the bookmakers’ clear favorite for a reason. Not only has the striker enjoyed vast success on a personal level, but he has also helped Bayern Munich to secure multiple trophies along the way.

Ronaldo and Messi have both continued to add to their ludicrous tallies this year, yet neither player has enjoyed the success that Lewandowski has experienced in 2020.

Mbappe and De Bruyne have also played key roles in their respective teams, although they have been nowhere near the level of the Polish marksman.

Lewandowski’s recent goalscoring record is frightening, but on top of that, Bayern’s domestic and European domination is difficult to ignore. Personally, I think it would be a massive shock if Lewandowski wasn’t named as this year’s FIFA Men’s Player of the Year.

If you’re looking for more soccer content, why not check out our soccer picks section?

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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