Cristiano Ronaldo cuts a relaxed figure on holiday at the moment as he soaks up the sun in Mallorca, despite suffering recent heartbreak at the Euros with Portugal. It has in many ways been a trying season for the 36-year-old after Juventus also failed to win the Champions League and Scudetto.
It looks as if things could get even worse for him after Lionel Messi took a giant step towards winning his first international piece of silverware with Argentina, an event that would have a profound impact on Ronaldo’s life.
Another Year to Remember for Lionel Messi
Indeed, Messi’s Argentina was able to beat Columbia in a penalty shootout during the semi-final of the Copa America, which means that they will face Brazil in the final. Should the 34-year-old win the final with Argentina then it seems a foregone conclusion that he will be awarded the Ballon d’Or for a record seventh time.
This will mean that he will now have two more than Ronaldo’s five and, in all likelihood, have established an unassailable lead over his greatest rival in terms of winning the most prestigious personal prize in the game.
Although, it should be said, even if Argentina doesn’t go on to win Copa America, it still looks like Messi will be the favorite to win the award, given how prolific he has been for club and country since the start of the year.
In fact, no one has scored more goals or created more assists than Messi who has racked up 43, with 32 goals and 11 assists. What’s even more admirable is that Barcelona isn’t on the list of the teams who have been awarded the most penalties this year, meaning that Messi has had to work harder for his goals.
The nearest challenge to Messi is Robert Lewandowski who has played a part in 38 goals, scoring 34 and assisting four. The 32-year-old believes that he should have won the 2020 Ballon d’Or after it was canceled last year, and he’s probably right. Although he doesn’t look to have done enough in 2021 despite another tremendous run of form. It is certainly a ruthless business at the top of world football.
Having said that, the Polish striker has a far better chance of winning the Ballon d’Or than Ronaldo does. Indeed, it’s time to delve into the 36-year-old’s numbers to understand just how far behind Messi he has been this season.
Has Ronaldo’s Magic Dried Up?
Ronaldo has had a hand in 31 goals since the start of 2020, scoring 27 and assisting four. Now, those are still superhuman numbers and make him one of the game’s elite, the only problem is that he trails Messi’s goal contribution tally by 12. Considering that Portugal was also dumped out of the Euros by Belgium in the round of 16 and Messi has made it to a final with Argentina, you begin to see how much daylight separates them in 2021. It also reveals some of what the Ballon d’Or adjudication panel may be thinking.
Additionally, you would have to say that the Portuguese player who is the poster boy for the retail giants Nike has perhaps won his last Ballon d’Or. The only other way you could see that changing is if Portugal were able to somehow win the World Cup next year with Ronaldo playing a starring role.
Even that looks like a bit of a stretch given that as of the 7th of July, the Portuguese have been priced at 16/1 to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. If anything, Messi’s Argentina stands a better chance of going all the way in the Middle East at odds of 11/1.
Misery in Mallorca for Ronaldo
As mentioned, it does just feel like Ronaldo’s days of winning the Ballon d’Or are behind him, which will be a bitter pill to swallow for the man with one of the most followed Instagram accounts in the world.
Such is his global appeal that Ronaldo also has one of the most followed Twitter accounts in the world and followers will know just how much sheer delight he takes in winning personal accolades.
It goes without saying that despite enjoying the beauty of the Balearics or the crystalline waters of the Mediterranean, Ronaldo will have one eye on what Messi is doing in South America. But the truth is, it is probably already too late. The 36-year-old’s fiercest rival will take one step towards cementing his legacy as the best player of all time by, in all likelihood, winning the Ballon d’Or for a record seventh time.