Lionel Messi has urged France Football to award Robert Lewandowski the 2020 Ballon d’Or after COVID-19 robbed the prolific Bayern Munich frontman of the accolade. The Poland international was the clear frontrunner for the prize having helped Bayern make history with a memorable treble – which included the Champions League – before the award ceremony was cancelled due to the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The ceremony was able to go ahead this year though and a number of the world’s greatest stars descended on the French capital for a night on the red carpet.
That includes both Messi and Lewandowski, who were able to pick up prizes following two breathtaking calendar years.
Messi helped fire Argentina to Copa America glory this summer to finally win his first international trophy with his country, while also winning the Copa del Rey with Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Lewandowski hit 54 goals in 45 games for club and country, winning the Bundesliga and Club World Cup Cup with Bayern.
Yet it was Messi who took home the prize after pipping Lewandowski via the points scoring votes system but he made it clear the striker was a worthy winner of the Ballon d’Or, despite having nothing to show for it.
“You deserve your Ballon d’Or,” Messi said to Lewandowski in his speech. “Last year, everyone was in agreement to say that you were the big winner.
“It has been an honour to compete with you Robert, and you deserve your golden ball.
“Hopefully France Football will give it to you, we all know that you should have won it last year and hopefully they will give it to you and you can have it at home.”
Lewandowski did receive the small consolation of the new Striker of the Year award – but it was not the one he truly craved.
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne was just one of the players to lavish Lewandowski in praise ahead of the ceremony.
“If I had to choose myself personally, I’m going to look at a two-year period, because we didn’t have anyone [last year],” De Bruyne said.
“I’d choose Lewandowski for what he has done in the last two years – goalscoring-wise, and also he’s won a lot with Bayern. He would be my pick.”
Messi (613pts) edged Lewandowski (580pts) by 33 points in the official scoring as Chelsea’s Jorginho took third place (460pts).
There was also space for Karim Benzema (239pts) and N’Golo Kante (186pts) in the top five.
Four-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now lost further ground on Messi, finished way down in sixth following his efforts with Juventus, Portugal and Manchester United.
The Argentine’s triumph saw him become just the second active Ligue 1 player in history to take home the Ballon d’Or behind Jean-Pierre Papin back in 1991.