Ballon d'Or: Klopp bemused as his former Dortmund hitman Lewandowski misses out

By Sports Desk November 30, 2021

Jurgen Klopp has questioned what more Robert Lewandowski could have done to win the Ballon d'Or after the Bayern Munich striker missed out on the award.

Lionel Messi scooped the accolade for a seventh time on Monday, but many felt this would be Lewandowski's time to take the glory.

Klopp benefited from the brilliance of Lewandowski when both men were at Borussia Dortmund, with the Poland international scoring 103 goals before switching to Bayern.

At club level, Lewandowski has scored 53 goals already in 2021, with six assists taking him to 59 goal involvements, the most in Europe's top five leagues.

Messi sits fifth on that list (32 goals, 12 assists) but helped Argentina to win the Copa America, thereby winning one of the few trophies that had eluded him.

That likely tipped the vote his way, with Messi's form since leaving Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain in August having so far been sketchy by his mercurial standards.

Asked initially whether he was surprised there were six players who ranked higher than Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, Klopp said: "I was surprised to be honest, but it's not in my hands. If you think he should be higher up, then you'll have to convince your colleagues."

Then Klopp turned his focus to Lewandowski, a player he once described as the best he has ever coached. Lewandowski was second to Messi for the coveted Ballon d'Or, which is voted for by journalists from across the world.

The 33-year-old scored 41 Bundesliga goals last season, breaking a record for the most in the division that was previously held by Gerd Muller.

"I think that you always can give it to Lionel Messi for the career he has and the footballer he is, all these kinds of things, but if you don't give it to Robert Lewandowski this time then it's quite tricky to get it at all," said the Liverpool boss.

"And yes, Mo definitely should have been high up."

 

Lewandowski would also have been a frontrunner in 2020, only for organisers France Football to cancel the awards due to the impact of the COVID-19 enforced break in the football year.

He managed 57 goals involvements (45 goals, 12 assists) in 2020, which was 10 more than Cristiano Ronaldo (41 goals, 6 assists), who had the second-most in the elite leagues, and 12 ahead of Messi (26 goals, 19 assists).

Related items

  • Dembele's agent warns Barca 'threats' won't tempt winger into agreeing new deal Dembele's agent warns Barca 'threats' won't tempt winger into agreeing new deal

    Ousmane Dembele's agent claims Barcelona have threatened to bench the winger for the rest of the season if he does not sign a new contract.

    Dembele entered the final six months of his deal on January 1, meaning he is eligible to discuss potential moves to other clubs for next season.

    Barca, especially coach Xavi, have been open in their desire to see Dembele commit himself to the club, despite his time there being largely disappointing since joining from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in 2017.

    But reports suggest Barca have grown frustrated with the lack of movement, with Xavi previously urging Dembele to "make an effort" in talks.

    Now, the likelihood of an agreement may have diminished even further after Dembele's agent accused Barca of refusing to negotiate and instead turning to "threats".

    "It's applying pressure, and that doesn't work with people like us," Dembele's representative Moussa Sissoko told French broadcaster RMC Sport.

    "Maybe it can work with agents who are cosy with Barcelona, but that's not the case, I am here to defend the interests of my player.

    "We are not here to fuel the debates on social networks, but the truth must be told. Yes, we have demanding demands, but we have already shown that Ousmane's career choices are not dictated by the money, otherwise he wouldn't be here.

    "If Barcelona wanted to negotiate, they could have tried to come to the table with us to discuss, except that there is no discussion, just threats of no longer playing in the side, and that's forbidden. We will assert Ousmane Dembele's rights if necessary.

    "We don't know what we're going to do, nothing has been finalised, but [Barca's] hierarchy alone are losing Ousmane.

    "From the start, we have shown that we want to discuss, with conditions of course, but without closing the door."

  • AFCON matchday preview: Egypt just need a point, Nigeria eye 100 per cent record AFCON matchday preview: Egypt just need a point, Nigeria eye 100 per cent record

    Wednesday's action at the Africa Cup of Nations sees Group D conclude with two heavyweights seemingly set for the knockout phase.

    Egypt certainly have not been without their critics in this tournament, with the performances turned in by Carlos Queiroz's men far from spectacular, but they remain on the brink of progression.

    Assuming they get the job done, they will join Nigeria in the next round after the Super Eagles won both of their first two matches.

    The two giants of AFCON football will be expected to prevail on Wednesday.

    Guinea-Bissau v Nigeria (19:00 GMT)

    Considering Nigeria have come into this tournament essentially under the guidance of a caretaker manager in Augustine Eguavoen, the Nigerian Football Federation's technical director, they have made a very solid start.

    They head into matchday three with six points from two games and have the chance to win all three first-round matches for the first time since 2006.

    Nigeria will be massive favourites as well. Guinea-Bissau have never won an AFCON game in eight attempts, with only Benin (14), Mozambique (12) and Namibia (nine) playing more tournament matches without a single success.

    Their issue this time around has been an obvious wastefulness in front of goal, failing to score from 16 shots that convert to an expected goals (xG) total of 2.2 – if they are goalless in this game, Guinea-Bissau will become the first team in AFCON history to go seven successive matches without scoring.

    One to watch: Taiwo Awoniyi (Nigeria)

    Union Berlin forward Awoniyi may be a relatively new face at international level, but he has looked a prominent threat for Nigeria. His nine shots over the first two games was more than twice as many as any other Super Eagles player, while his 14 touches in the opposition's box is also the most of anyone in the squad. Still, one goal from 2.4 xG suggests he could sharpen up a little.

     

    Egypt v Sudan (19:00 GMT)

    A point will be enough for the Pharaohs to follow Nigeria into the knockouts, though their defeat to Eguavoen's men means second place is the best they can hope for.

    Egypt have looked every inch a side reliant on Mohamed Salah in this tournament, with his goal against Guinea-Bissau last time out breathing some life into their campaign.

    While a draw will be enough for them, in reality only a win over Sudan will satisfy the expectations of supporters.

    Sudan's xG total (1.25) and xGA (expected goals against) of 3.17 are the worst of the four teams in Group D, and Egypt will hope to capitalise on their lack of defensive solidity and attacking threat.

    One to watch: Ali Achrine (Sudan)

    If Sudan are to stand any chance of beating Egypt and potentially going through to the knockout phase, goalkeeper Achrine will surely need to be in inspired form.

     

  • Everton turn to Ferguson as caretaker boss after Benitez sacking Everton turn to Ferguson as caretaker boss after Benitez sacking

    Everton have bought themselves time while they pursue a successor to Rafael Benitez by appointing club legend Duncan Ferguson as caretaker manager.

    A run of three defeats in four top-flight games resulted in former Liverpool boss Benitez being sacked at the weekend, with Everton plummeting worryingly close to the Premier League drop zone.

    Reports have indicated 16th-placed Everton, who have never been relegated from the Premier League, could interview Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard as they hunt their next boss.

    Lampard did well in his first management job at Derby County before experiencing mixed fortunes as Chelsea boss, while Rooney is catching the eye in difficult circumstances at Derby this season.

    Former Everton manager Roberto Martinez has also been linked with a return to the role.

    Ferguson, who was already on the Everton staff as assistant manager, may also come into contention. Everton said he has been installed for their "upcoming games", suggesting a permanent appointment is considered quite some way off. The Toffees said an announcement would come "in due course".

    Everton revealed Ferguson's short-term role on their official website, after the former striker took first-team training on Tuesday.

    It is his second stint as caretaker, having filled in between the sacking of Marco Silva and the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti in December 2019. The fiery Scot led Everton to a win over Chelsea and draws with Manchester United and Arsenal to give the club a lift ahead of Ancelotti coming in.

    His first game of this spell in charge will be the home clash with Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa on Saturday.

    Everton then do not have a game scheduled for two weeks, with their next assignment due to be an FA Cup home game against Brentford on February 5, followed by a Premier League trip to Newcastle United three days later.

    Former Everton players John Ebbrell and Leighton Baines will work alongside Ferguson, as will ex-Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Alan Kelly.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.