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On Monday afternoon, it was announced that for the first time since 1956, the Ballon d'Or will "take a break" in 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus on the football season, meaning Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski will ultimately miss out on a trophy he so richly deserves.
After scoring 51 times in 43 appearances this season, including 11 goals in the Champions League - the competition's top scorer - the 31-year-old Polish international was, in my opinion, this year's front-runner for the award after a truly remarkable campaign in front of goal.
Lewandowski helped his side to another Bundesliga title with 34 goals in 31 appearances, which is an average of a goal every 81 minutes. He beat the likes of Timo Werner and Jadon Sancho in the scoring charts, and was recently named the Bundesliga's Player of the Season for 2019/20, with 42.6 percent of his fellow players labelling him the best in the league.
But after such a prolific campaign for club and country, his greatest chance of winning the Ballon d'Or has cruelly slipped away.
Robert Lewandowski for Bayern Munich (19/20):
:busts_in_silhouette: - 43 appearances
:bust_in_silhouette: - 42 starts
⏱ - 41.9 90s
:soccer: - 51 goals
:dart: - 6 assists
- 66:08 minutes per goal contribution
Four players in the last decade scored 50 goals in a season: Ronaldo (6); Messi (6); Suárez; and Lewandowski. pic.twitter.com/8GaTNTpKfg
- UtdArena (@utdarena) July 12, 2020
For years now, Lewandowski has been overshadowed by the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, despite his consistency in front of goal.
Last year, for example, despite scoring 40 goals in all competitions for Bayern, the striker could only rank in eighth place behind Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah. In fact, a year previously, in the same year as Luka Modric's controversial win, the Polish forward wasn't even placed in the top 20 after netting 49 goals in 57 games for club and country.
Lewandowski continues to be overlooked by those behind the scenes and to be quite honest, there's no real justification for it.
Don't get me wrong, the decision to cancel the awards will come as a huge blow to many. Kevin de Bruyne, who has been directly involved in 29 Premier League goals this season, would have been a contender for the prize, and of course, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have proved that age is just a number in recent months.
But it just feels like for the first time, Robert Lewandowski had a very real chance of finally lifting that prestigious trophy.
Robert Lewandowski in 2019-20:
Top scorer in every competition he's played in, including the Champions League :fire:
Was this his year for the Ballon d'Or? :trophy: pic.twitter.com/gi0OKT39Dm
- Goal (@goal) July 20, 2020
Somebody who had Lewandowski's full backing was his manager, Hansi Flick.
"The way he takes the ball down there and the way he locks up. Of course, he's had a bit of luck with that as well. But that's what distinguishes him, that he has this confidence in his quality." he said after Lewandowski scored a brace to help Bayern win the DFB-Pokal against Bayer Leverkusen earlier this month.
"If I measure for goals now and I see that he has scored 34 goals in the Bundesliga this year, then you can think about how a player from the Bundesliga can become the Ballon d'Or winner. So why not?
"He has laid all the groundwork with this achievement this year and I would wish him well."
Congratulations to my official Ballon d'Or winner 2020, Robert Lewandowski! :fire: pic.twitter.com/6FL4uLS25T
- A (@alcxntara6) July 20, 2020
Maybe next year, Lewa.