Controversy as Gianluigi Donnarumma beats Édouard Mendy to 2021 Yashin Trophy

Paris Saint-Germain’s Gianluigi Donnarumma won the 2021 Ballon d’Or Yashin Trophy award on Monday night, seeing off competition from Chelsea’s Édouard Mendy.

Donnarumma is only the second goalkeeper after Liverpool’s Alisson Becker to receive the award named after Russian icon and former Ballon d’Or winner, “The Black Spider”, Lev Yashin.

Both PSG shot-stoppers were in the running for the trophy but the voting goalkeepers, ex-goalkeepers and journalists bestowed the victory on Donnarumma due to his heroics at the Euro 2020 tournament.

The Yashin trophy is France Football’s response to calls for football bodies to recognise the sport’s most However, one of the most under-appreciated position every year.

Lev Yashin, who the trophy is named after, is the only goalkeeper ever to win the Ballon d’Or award in its 65-year history. Other great goalkeepers have since been nominated for the Ballon d’Or, but the award is usually skewed in favour of attacking players even if a goalkeeper outdid the competition.

Prior to the Yashin Trophy win for the 22-year-old Donnarumma, he was named the best goalkeeper in the world for 2021 by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.

He beat Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer to that award, with Mendy coming in third.

Edouard Mendy misses out on an important recognition

Donnarumma is a deserved winner but Edouard Mendy is deemed to be more deserving of the award than the 22-year-old PSG and Italy goalkeeper.

Donnarumma also finished in 10th place in the Ballon d’Or rankings while Mendy was totally snubbed for the list, which only served to fuel the controversy surrounding the Italian’s win.

Mendy is the first black goalkeeper since Brazil and AC Milan legend Dida in 2007 to win the Champions League and the first African goalkeeper since Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar in 1985 to lift an European title.

Just like both legendary goalkeepers, he received no recognition for his stellar efforts which helped his club to major honours, further fuelling the heated discourse around how black talents in football tend to be overlooked.

The 29-year-old Senegalese shotstopper remains an inspiration for black and African players, however, as opined by Cameroon icon Jacques Songo’o.

“It’s a great pride and I’m so happy that African goalkeepers have reached this level,” Jacques Songo’o told GOAL. “We have the respect now and we have shown that with work we can reach these places.

“When you have the chance, you have to take it, and when Mendy joined Chelsea it wasn’t necessarily as first-choice.

“There was already [Kepa], who had played for the Spanish national team. But Mendy came, worked hard, put pressure on his rival, and when he got his chance, he took it. It doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Donnarumma’s 2021 heroics not enough to seal PSG starting spot regardless

Despite being the talk of the year alongside Mendy, Donnarumma has not been able to replicate the Senegalese’s achievement of seizing the starting spot from his club’s current number one.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino has shown a preference for Keylor Navas – who finished ninth in the Yashin Trophy rankings – in big games, while Donnarumma handles the smaller games.

Mino Raiola, Donnarumma’s agent, has, in characteristic fashion, begun to cook up a media storm about his client’s situation at the club, claiming that Donnarumma may be leaving PSG soon.

PSG president president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has come out to quash the rumours suggesting that Donnarumma could depart the French giants following Raiola’s comments, however.

Al-Khelaifi simply said after the Yashin Trophy was presented to Donnarumma: “Gianluigi Donnarumma is simply extraordinary, he will contribute to the success of Paris Saint Germain in the coming seasons.”

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