Robert Lewandowski equalled Cristiano Ronaldo’s FIFA The Best record after lifting his second award on Monday.
For the last 3 decades, Ballon d’Or has been seen as the Oscars in the world of football, but FIFA’s The Best award is slowly gaining its credibility. After ending their brief partnership in 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo holds most Best FIFA Men’s Player awards (2), one more than Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, and Robert Lewandowski.
Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski emerged as hot favourites and went head-to-head once again since Lionel Messi’s seventh Ballon d’Or triumph. Along with Messi and Lewandowski, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah was the third and final nominee. Mo Salah was previously nominated in 2018 but finished third and had to settle for the same due to Messi and Lewandowski’s dominance in 2021.
As we know, the winner is decided based on votes from an international jury consisting of national team coaches and captains, a selected journalist from each territory by a national side. The merit of winning the award is based upon the individual statistics and amount of contribution by an individual in his club and country’s achievements.
Robert Lewandowski has been crowned The Best FIFA Men’s Player for the second year running, beating the likes of Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah. Lewandowski finished first with 48 points, 4 ahead of Messi and 9 ahead of Mo Salah. After missing out on the Ballon d’Or, the Polish striker settled the score with Lionel Messi.
Robert Lewandowski is ageing like fine wine at the moment, and his goalscoring exploits only seem to get better with age as the Polish International is enjoying his best year in of career so far.
Gerd Muller, who holds majestic records in the Bundesliga, saw his two long-established records for most Bundesliga goals in a calendar year and most goals in a Bundesliga season overthrown by Lewandowski. Lewandowski scored a staggering 41 league goals in 29 games in the 2020-21 campaign and ended 2021 with 43 league goals to his name.
His goalscoring prowess wasn’t just limited to Bundesliga though, Lewandowski scored 69 goals in 69 appearances for club and country in 2021, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo’s best-ever goalscoring record in a calendar year. His tally consisted of five hat-tricks and 13 assists with an average of 71 minutes per goal.
After missing out on the European Golden Shoe award last term, Lewandowski won his maiden golden boot award and also the Bundesliga top scorer award. His achievements also played their part in team success as Lewandowski led Bayern to their 9th consecutive league title and the DFL-Super cup.
Lionel Messi broke his record of 6 Ballon d’Or wins by adding another to his collection but in PSG’s colours. However, there were plenty who were left dumbfounded and frustrated as many predicted Lewandowski to lift the prestigious award ahead of the Argentine based upon Lewandowski’s incredible form from the start of the season.
Such claims of Messi being unworthy are ridiculous and a result of his high standards for the past decade. In the end, Lewandowski retained his Best FIFA Men’s Player award ahead of Messi to make things even. Despite a dip in his form, his numbers are stunning by anyone else’s standards. He scored 43 goals and provided 18 assists in 61 appearances in 2021, with at least a goal involvement every game.
The 34-year-old picked up the Pichichi award for the fifth year on the bounce and his eight in total. The former Barcelona captain also lifted his first trophy as the club’s captain with a Copa del Rey triumph with a Barcelona side who have fallen off drastically in all competitions.
After a shocking and tearful exit from Barcelona, the little magician completed his childhood dream of winning an international trophy as Messi ended Argentina’s 28-year trophy drought by winning the Copa America in July. Messi led the team from the front with 9 goal contributions in the tournament and was named the best player and top scorer of the tournament.
If Lewandowski’s second-place finish in Ballon d’Or voting was considered controversial, then Mohamed Salah’s seventh-place finish was hilarious.
The 29-year-old wasted no time to prove them wrong, too, continuing his prolific goalscoring form at Liverpool to put him on course for a third Premier League Golden Boot. Salah joined the Africa Cup of Nations after netting 23 goals and providing 9 assists in 26 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions.
Salah’s dribbling and individual prowess are at their peak. The Egyptian has produced many moments of individual brilliance against the likes of Manchester City, Watford, and most importantly, his hat-trick against arch-rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. Due to his impressive performances, Liverpool managed to top the group of death by snatching all possible points.
Many have proclaimed him to be the best player in the world right now, but with Lewandowski and Messi competing at their best over the entirety of 2021, his lack of silverware toppled his chances against them.
However, if Salah continues his scintillating form for club and country and wins the AFCON or any other silverware, we fancy him leading the race for Ballon d’Or and The Best FIFA Men’s Player award.