For the first time since it was launched in 1956, the Ballon d’Or will not be awarded this year.
Its organisers, the magazine France Football, made the announcement this week, saying it was impossible to award the prestigious honour in a season so disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
So we decided to ask our reporters for their top three choices of this year’s best performers and used the same scoring system to find a winner.
1. Robert Lewandowski; 2. Sergio Ramos; 3. Lionel Messi
The rate that Robert Lewandowski scored goals for Bayern Munich this year was almost at computer game levels. He is the best No 9 in the business and his ambition to be recognised as a Ballon d’Or winner should have materialised this Christmas.
He might be the wrong side of 30 now but he will continue at the top level for many years to come.
Ramos gets second place because his form in helping Real Madrid reclaim LaLiga has been exceptional (he finished with double figures for goals).
Messi gets third place after a poor season… he was only – ONLY! – involved in 46 goals this year.
1. Robert Lewandowski; 2. Kevin De Bruyne; 3. Cristiano Ronaldo
There have only been two games in 2020 in which Robert Lewandowski failed to score. He scored in the other 16, racking up 21 goals.
Lionel Messi, I love you, but you wouldn’t have made my top three I’m afraid.
1. Virgil Van Dijk; 2. Robert Lewandowski; 3. Lionel Messi
It was close between Van Dijk and Messi last year but the Dutchman’s role in Liverpool’s title triumph should have swung the vote his way this year.
A class act, Rolls Royce of a defender. Liverpool’s success of recent years impossible without him.
1. Robert Lewandowski; 2. Cristiano Ronaldo; 3. Kevin De Bruyne
Just the 21 goals for Lewandowski since January and he’s only failed to find the net in two of those 18 matches. Bundesliga title and German Cup to his name, with the Champions League coming up next month.
Ronaldo gets second after 22 goals in 21 games for Juventus since the turn of the year, the main contributing factor to the club setting themselves on the way to lifting a ninth consecutive Serie A title.
And Belgian De Bruyne has dragged City through plenty of games over the last seven months, racking up the assists in the process. He produced a standout performance away at Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16.
1. Robert Lewandowski; 2. Karim Benzema; 3. Kevin De Bruyne
It takes three pretty special years from three special players to leave both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in the shadows.
Lewandowski’s 21 goals since the turn of the year brought Bayern the domestic double; Benzema was Real Madrid’s leading light in their title win; De Bruyne has been the standout performer in English football and could yet lead City to a first European triumph.
1. Sadio Mane; 2. Robert Lewandowski; 3. Cristiano Ronaldo
Mane has been Liverpool’s game changer. He’s been pivotal to their fantastic year when so often he has been the decisive player on the pitch.
Takes the rough stuff and comes back for more. His appetite to win shows no sign of diminishing and Liverpool’s incisive attacking would be blunt without him.
Lewandowski shrugged aside hernia surgery and a hairline fracture of the shin to score a phenomenal 51 goals for Bayern this season including 12 in the last ten games. A machine of a player who continues to prove hard to stop.
As for Ronaldo… to be 35 years old and scoring 30 goals a season in the Italian league is testament to the talent and drive that the Portuguese possesses.
His self-interest and obsession may not be to everyone’s taste but he remains an example of how to make the best of what you have.
Another league title beckons for a career that would not look out of place in Roy of the Rovers.
1. Erling Haaland; 2. Sergio Ramos; 3. Bruno Fernandes
Nobody could have predicted the stunning impact Haaland would have on Borussia Dortmund after his January move from Austrian football.
Sixteen goals in 15 matches is staggering for a striker who only had his 20th birthday this week.
Ramos has not only been the talisman in helping Real Madrid overhaul Barcelona to be LaLiga champions, he’s also scored six times since lockdown – a fantastic effort for a defender. One of the club’s all-time greats.
Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final apart, when was the last time one player made such a remarkable difference to a club the size of Manchester United as Fernandes?
He signed after United had just lost at home to Burnley. They didn’t lose any of the next 19 with the midfielder creating and scoring goals
1. Cristiano Ronaldo; 2. Robert Lewandowski; 3. Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo. How is this guy 35-years-old? Twenty-two goals in 2020. Ridiculous. Surely next season’s the one where he at least starts to look his age.
Robert Lewandowski has scored 55 goals this season and 21 in 18 since the start of 2020. Goalscoring comes too easily to this guy.
As for Messi. Only eleven goals in 2020 but he turned in one of the best individual performances I’ve ever seen live in scoring four of Barcelona’s goals in a 5-0 win over Eibar while I was on a stag-do in February.
1. Robert Lewandowski; 2. Virgil van Dijk; 3. Alejandro Gomez
This may have been the year when Lewandowski received the top individual award his talent and consistency deserves.
In the calendar year, the Pole has 21 goals in 18 appearances in all competitions, helping Bayern complete the league and Cup double. When football resumed, he carried on exactly where he had left off when it was suspended.
Another pause will hold no fear for him, therefore, and who would bet against the 31-year-old leading Bayern to a first Champions League title in seven years?
For my second pick, forget Liverpool’s dodgy form since the restart. They have been a remorseless winning machine for the best part of two years and no player is more responsible for that than Van Dijk.
The Dutchman has added class and character to an already formidable side and when it really matters, he always delivers.
Few players have had such a dramatic impact on a team as Van Dijk. For lovers of high-class sport, is a great shame we will not see him marking Lewandowski in the Champions League Final.
Finally, most neutrals will surely be cheering Atalanta when they meet Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Although they are relatively small club, they have challenged Italy’s aristocrats for two seasons now thanks to clever recruitment and the daring playing style of coach Gian Piero Gasperini.
Argentine playmaker Gomez, known as ‘Papu’, is the jewel in their team, a fabulous creator who has 18 assists in all competitions this term.
Atalanta are based in Bergamo, one of the Italian towns hit hardest by coronavirus. Gomez and his team-mates are doing all they can to bring joy to a place that has experienced huge suffering.
Based on the official Ballon d’Or scoring criteria of five points for first place, three points for second place and one point for third place, here’s our ranking:
1. Lewandowski 34 points; 2. Ronaldo 10; 3. Van Dijk 8; 4. Ramos 6; 5= De Bruyne 5; 5= Mane 5; 5= Haaland 5; 8= Benzema 3; 8= Messi 3; 10= Fernandes 1; 10= Gomez 1