Rio Ferdinand and Peter Crouch agree that six-time winner Lionel Messi is not the most-deserving recipient of the 2021 Ballon d’Or.

The two pundits insisted the coveted award must go to Robert Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich superstar reaffirmed his credentials with a hat-trick against Benfica on Tuesday night.

Lewandowski is the odds-on favourite to win the Ballon d’Or for the first time during a ceremony in Paris at the end of November.

The prolific Pole has been the best out-and-out striker in Europe in recent seasons and his scoring numbers make for astonishing reading.

Lewandowski has plundered 22 goals in 16 games this season, scoring three as Bayern maintained their 100 per cent record in the Champions League with a 5-2 victory over Benfica.

The 33-year-old nodded in Kinglsey Coman ‘s cross to open the scoring and made amends for a subsequent penalty miss with two dinked finishes to complete his hat-trick in the second half.

Lewandowski’s latest heroics left former Liverpool striker Crouch and ex-Manchester United defender Ferdinand in no doubt he deserves the 2021 Ballon d’Or ahead of rivals Messi, Mohamed Salah, Jorginho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I can’t argue with Lionel Messi, can I? Let’s be honest. But I just think if Robert Lewandowski doesn’t win a Ballon d’Or in his lifetime, I think it would be a travesty,” Crouch told BT Sport .

“And I think this year, with the amount of goals he’s scored… he’s got 22 goals now and it’s October – I didn’t get 22 goals in May!

“This is a special, special player. Ronaldo and Messi have always been the benchmark, always, but Robert Lewandowski, it’s his time to potentially win it this year.”

Ferdinand added: “In the calendar year, by the way, in the 38 games he’s played he’s got 50 goals. No one is near that. This is today in the game, the goals are ridiculous, he scores every type of goal – that’s what I love about him.

“He’s got your No.9 goals where you’re at the back post heading balls in like that, he’s got deft touches.”

Crouch chimed in to describe Lewandowski as a “genius” before Ferdinand reminded viewers of his strong claim for the 2020 Ballon d’Or prior to the ceremony’s cancellation.

“He’s an unbelievable centre-forward,” said Crouch. “For me, playing that position, you marvel in it. He’s the only one left on that list – Lionel Messi doesn’t play there, Jorginho [is a midfielder]. A proper No.9 I’d called him, and a genius.”

Ferdinand added: “He should have won it last year. Remember, they didn’t give him the Ballon d’Or because of Covid but he should have won it.”