Lionel Messi’s seventh Ballon d’Or win was not a huge surprise, but some of the placements below the Argentinean caused a bit of a stir.
PSG forward Messi earned the award after finally winning his first major international tournament with his country, having been named player of the tournament at the Copa America and scored 28 goals for Barcelona in the first half of the year before moving to Paris.
However, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah – one of the contenders for a place on the podium after some eye-catching goalscoring form at club level – only finished seventh in the final reckoning.
Messi was asked about the Egyptian after the results of the voting were announced, and gave the Liverpool man hope for the future.
Salah has scored 32 club goals in 2021, the same number as Messi but fewer than Ballon d’Or runner-up Robert Lewandowski.
However, he ultimately fell well short of the podium, where the third spot went to Chelsea’s Jorginho after the Italian won the Champions League and European Championships.
“I don’t know if the record is beatable,” Messi said after winning the award. “I just have to accept it but I’m not sure if it can be beaten.
“Salah will have opportunities in the years to come. Both players [Salah and Lewandowski] are at their best at the moment and will have more chances to win it.”
Ultimately, it was a lower finish for Salah than in 2019, when he finished fifth off the back of Liverpool’s Champions League win.
Salah will have another chance to stake his claim for the award in 2022, when his Egypt side are among the favourites for the Africa Cup of Nations at the start of the year.
He will also have the opportunity to fight for glory with Liverpool on multiple fronts, with the Reds cruising into the last 16 of the Champions League and mounting a title charge in the Premier League.
However, one imagines the outcome of the 2022 World Cup will also have a bearing on the results.