The Ballon d'Or is fast approaching and football fans are passionately debating who they think should be crowned the best male footballer of 2021.
Messi has been the bookmakers' favourite for a few months now with Argentina's Copa America triumph seemingly setting up the Paris Saint-Germain for a record-breaking seventh triumph.
Who would win the Ballon d'Or?
However, Lewandowski electrifying start to the season with 19 goals in just 25 games for Bayern Munich, combined with winning the European Golden Shoe, has made the call much more difficult.
We won't know which of the two goalscoring machines - or, of course, an outside candidate - will take the prize until the gala on Monday, but that will only lead to more debate in the meantime.
And that's where Transfermarkt have stepped in brilliantly because they decided to host their own Ballon d'Or where the winner would be decided by the fans, only the fans and nothing but the fans.
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Fan vote on the Ballon d'Or
Using Instagram's poll feature, the revered data gurus created a knockout tree format where the top male performers across 2021 would go head-to-head to progress to their Ballon d'Or finale.
And now that all the votes have been collected and the winner has been revealed, let's take a walk through the tournament tree to see who the fans think should win the Ballon d'Or this year.
Round of 32
Bruno Fernandes defeats Giorgio Chiellini
Karim Benzema defeats Nicolò Barella
Kevin De Bruyne defeats Cesar Azpilicueta
Gianluigi Donnarumma defeats Ruben Dias
Erling Braut Haaland defeats Phil Foden
Harry Kane defeats Jorginho
Mohamed Salah defeats Leonardo Bonucci
Robert Lewandowski defeats Riyad Mahrez
Romelu Lukaku defeats Luka Modric
Kylian Mbappe defeats Lautaro Martinez
Pedri defeats Raheem Sterling
N'Golo Kante defeats Gerard Moreno
Neymar defeats Mason Mount
Luis Suarez defeats Simon Kjaer
Note: Messi and Ronaldo get a bye to the next round
Round of 16
Lionel Messi defeats Bruno Fernandes
Karim Benzema defeats Kevin De Bruyne
Erling Braut Haaland defeats Gianluigi Donnarumma
Mohamed Salah defeats Harry Kane
Robert Lewandowski defeats Romelu Lukaku
Kylian Mbappe defeats Pedri
N'Golo Kante defeats Neymar
Cristiano Ronaldo defeats Luis Suarez
Lionel Messi defeats Karim Benzema
Mohamed Salah defeats Erling Braut Haaland
Robert Lewandowski defeats Kylian Mbappe
Cristiano Ronaldo defeats N'Golo Kante
Mohamed Salah defeats Lionel Messi
Robert Lewandowski defeats Cristiano Ronaldo
Robert Lewandowski defeats Mohamed Salah
Lewandowski takes the prize
Gosh. It really does feel like the tide is turning in Lewandowski's favour, doesn't it?
Not only did the Polish ace win the IFFHS player of the year and rise above Messi as the favourite for FIFA's 'The Best' award, but now he's the people's choice to take home the Ballon d'Or.
It's such a close run thing between Lewandowski and Messi that we're not going to argue with the consensus, but there are definitely some strange results further down the tournament tree.
For starters, there's no chance that Salah should be finishing in second over Messi and although we don't think Jorginho should be on the podium, getting knocked out in the first round is far too harsh.
But no matter who you think should win the Ballon d'Or and in what order the runners-up should be placed, there's no denying that it's one of the closest races that we've seen in years. Bring it on.News Now - Sport News