Gianluigi Donnarumma has been named as the world’s best male goalkeeper at the 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris.
While all eyes were on whether or not Lionel Messi would win a record-breaking seventh plaque, there could be no escaping the fact that several other prestigious prizes were being dished out.
Pedri was named as the world’s best young player, Alexia Putellas took home the third annual Ballon d’Or Féminin and Robert Lewandowski was lauded as the finest striker in the business.
Top prizes and goalkeepers
However, one of the most intriguing plaques actually concerns goalkeepers with the Yashin Trophy ensuring that the spotlight is cast on the sport’s most under-appreciated position every year.
Shot-stoppers are notoriously disrespected when it comes to individual titles with Lev Yashin himself enduring as the only player in the position to have picked up the top prize at the Ballon d’Or.
But the advent of the Yashin Trophy in 2019 has ensured that goalkeepers will be recognised in one way or another at each of France Football’s awards ceremonies.
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History of the Yashin Trophy
Alisson Becker won the inaugural trophy more than two years ago with the 2020 edition ruled out by the COVID-19 pandemic, before Donnarumma got proceedings back underway this year.
Truth be told, it wasn’t at all surprising to see the Paris Saint-Germain star taking home the top prize considering he was named as the best player of the tournament at Euro 2020.
Marry that to winning Serie A’s Best Goalkeeper award in his final season at AC Milan and the 22-year-old felt like the obvious choice to be heralded as the best male shot-stopper in the sport.
Final standings in the Yashin Trophy
However, that doesn’t meant that the Yashin Trophy didn’t present any cause for controversy or debate because France Football were quick to reveal how the other nine candidates were ranked.
Besides, the voting order does, in effect, reveal the top 10 goalkeepers in the sport right now and it makes for fascinating ready, so be sure to check out how the Ballon d’Or settled the debate below:
10. Sami Handanovic (Inter Milan)
9. Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)
8. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
7. Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
6. Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
5. Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich)
4. Ederson (Manchester City)
3. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)
2. Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)
1. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
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Talking points from the rankings
It’s great to see that Mendy has been given the credit he deserves because it was scandalous that the Chelsea goalkeeper wasn’t nominated for the main prize by France Football.
Aside from being the number one of the Champions League winners, it’s staggering to think that Mendy’s heroic performances didn’t even warrant being named in the world’s top 30 players.
However, that aside, it feels like the votes cut a nice balance between the established goalkeeping greats like Neuer and Oblak as well as superb 2021 performers like Martinez and Schmeichel.
Saying that, you can rest assured that Liverpool and Manchester United fans won’t be pleased with the absences of Alisson and David de Gea…
But no matter how much you debate the lower rungs of the votes and minute details of the rankings, there’s no denying that Donnarumma was the number one of the number ones in 2021.