Lionel Messi names his four Ballon d’Or contenders – and snubs Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi has named his top four contenders to win this year's Ballon d'Or award – but there's mention of great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi is one of the 30 players included on France Football's shortlist for the 2021 prize, along with Paris St-Germain team-mates Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Gianluigi Donnarumma.

A number of Italy stars who claimed victory at Euro 2020 over the summer also made the cut, including Jorginho, Nicolo Barella and defensive duo Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

Jorginho is one of several Chelsea players to be included following their Champions League triumph back in May, as well as Mason Mount, N'Golo Kante and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Messi, who captained Argentina to a long-awaited Copa America win this summer while picking up the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards, will be one of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or again this year.

The Barcelona legend has picked it up a record six times and was the last man to win it in 2019, as last year's awards were scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Who do you think will win the Ballon d'Or this year? Let us know in the comments section below.

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And Messi is well aware of the strong competition he faces in 2021, revealing the four players he believes will rival him for the prize.

“In my team, there are two for whom I will easily vote: Neymar and Kylian Mbappé," he told France Football.

"And then Robert Lewandowski, who has just had a great year and Karim Benzema who was excellent."

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Lewandowski is one of the strongest candidates to scoop this year's award after bagging an incredible 50 goals in 2021 for Bayern Munich.

Many felt the Poland striker was robbed of his first Ballon d'Or when the event was cancelled in 2020, having been in similar goalscoring form.

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Benzema has scored 33 goals for club and country this calendar year, getting his 2021/22 campaign off to a flyer by scoring nine in eight La Liga matches.

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