Robert Pires has backed Robert Lewandowski to win the Ballon d'Or as he thinks the Bayern Munich and Poland striker is "simply the best".
Lewandowski has scored 38 goals in 30 league games in 2021 and has scored a goal every 66 minutes on average.
This year he has won the Bundesliga title and DFB-Supercup with Bayern, and former Arsenal and Villarreal winger Pires thinks the 33-year-old was unfortunate not to add a Champions League winners medal to his collection.
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"I very much hope that Robert Lewandowski receives this honour," Pires told German publication Sport Buzzer.
"In terms of the overall package as well as the development and accuracy, Lewandowski is simply the best.
"If he had played in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain last season and hadn't been injured, then Munich would not only have reached the semi-finals, but they might have defended their title."
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Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante and Jorginho are also on the shortlist for the men's award. The pair were influential in Chelsea's run to Champions League glory last season and Pires thinks both could cause an upset.
He said: "I think of N'Golo Kante, who won the Champions League with Chelsea and who is considered undroppable by the Blues, as well as by the French national team. Jorginho will also have his chance - as the only one who could win both the Champions League and the European Championship."
Pires also believes Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe will both be regular frontrunners for future Ballon d'Or awards.
"He [Haaland] scored a lot of goals at Borussia Dortmund," he said. "But his club is not as much in the spotlight as FC Bayern, for example. In addition, he was not at the Euros.
"Like Kylian Mbappe, the future belongs to him. He'll definitely have a couple of chances to get the Ballon d'Or."
WHO IS NOMINATED FOR THE MEN’S 2021 BALLON D’OR?
- Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
- Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)
- Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
- Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
- Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
- Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
- Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
- Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
- Phil Foden (Manchester City)
- Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
- Jorginho (Chelsea)
- Harry Kane (Tottenham)
- N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
- Simon Kjaer (AC Milan)
- Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
- Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
- Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
- Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)
- Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
- Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
- Mason Mount (Chelsea)
- Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Pedri (Barcelona)
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
- Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
- Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
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You can watch a free live stream of the 2021 Ballon d'Or ceremony on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app on Monday night. Join us from 19:30-21:00 GMT as the best male and female players on the planet are crowned in Paris (stream available to UK users only)
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