Paul Pogba has made an early Ballon d’Or prediction ahead of the European Championships this summer but did not select Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi
Paul Pogba believes N’Golo Kante deserves to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo and Messi, two of the all-time greats, have dominated the coveted individual award for over a decade.
The duo have shared 11 out of the last 12, Ballon d’Or’s, with Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric the only exception in 2019.
The Ballon D’or is set to return this year after it’s absence in 2020 due to coronavirus, with a 30-man shortlist set to be drawn up in October.
It’s a far more open competition for football’s most prestigious individual award this time out.
And Manchester United star Pogba believes French teammate Kante should earn the prize ahead of Ronaldo and Messi for his Champions League exploits.
“What I would like to say to the whole world is that the “NG” we have seen in recent months has always been the same,” he told Eurosport France’s FC Stream Team podcast.
“We talk a lot about his performances but he has always been as good as ever.
“There was no Cristiano and Messi in the semi-final, so it’s good to see the performances of the midfielders or even the defenders.
“I said a long time ago that it would be appropriate, if Chelsea won, for him to win the Ballon d’Or. It would be deserved, too.”
Kante shone in the Champions League final against Manchester City, dominating Pep Guardiola’s men to claim the man-of-the-match award.
He is widely regarded as the best player in the world in his position and also starred in the rounds that preceded the final in Porto.
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Kante played a pivotal role in Chelsea’s second Champions League triumph, as well as reaching the FA Cup final and claiming a top four Premier League finish in Thomas Tuchel’s first season in charge.
He is likely to be a top contender for the Ballon d’Or award should his form continue into this summer’s European Championships.
Kante and Pogba could make a formidable midfield pairing for one of the pre-tournament favourites France.
And Pogba believes the side boasting bundles of quality will have a level of expectation to perform.
“We have a PlayStation team but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don’t win a trophy,” he added.
“We have to live up to expectations and there’ll be even more expected with Karim’s return. It’s nice to see a team sheet like that…
“It’s always an honour but you always have to be present on the pitch.
“Being world champions and having a team like that, we will be expected to do even more.”
Kante’s Chelsea teammate Kai Havertz, who scored the winning goal in the Champions League final, will face the 30-year-old in the Euros group stages with Germany.
“When you see [Kante], you have to smile. He is a great personality and a great person,” he told reporters, as per Goal.
“And a great football player. As an attacking player, I’m always happy when he is on the pitch.
“You can make a lot of mistakes because he always wins the ball back. He’s fast, agile and always gets his leg in.
“That’s why it’s not so nice to have to play against him in the first match of the European Championship, of course.”