Messi has zero chance, Benzema takes the lead in the Ballon d’Or rankings
Despite the many controversies and criticisms of France Football over the organization of the Ballon d’Or in recent years, this individual award still holds the status of the most prestigious in world soccer. The Ballon d’Or has a history and aura that makes it impossible to give up, despite the seemingly unfair outcome of recent ceremonies.
In March, France Football announced a change in the criteria for awarding the Ballon d’Or. They decided to improve the quality of respondents, limiting the circle of those entitled to vote by the FIFA ranking: only representatives of the top-100 national teams will be questioned. They insist that individual achievements are now more important than team titles in evaluating the nominees, this point is tacitly called “The Law of Georginho”. However, nothing changes here: under the old rules Jorginho did not get the Ballon d’Or, and do not take into account the contribution of players to the team victories will not work.
Well, most importantly: the awarding of the Ballon d’Or is being moved from winter to summer. Now the players will be evaluated not by calendar years, but by European soccer seasons, held under the “autumn-spring” system. Thus, the contenders for the prize left less than two months to influence the outcome of voting for the Ballon d’Or, the results of the club season will be decisive, and performances at the 2022 World Cup will be evaluated in 2023.
Messi, like Ronaldo, is no longer a contender for the Ballon d’Or
If we were to make a long list of contenders for the Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo would be slightly above the current holder. The Portuguese’s place is tentatively at the junction of the second and third ten, while Leo risks not even in the top 50. The difficulties of Manchester United make their mark, but Cristiano, at 37, is having an unashamed season in England (18 goals in 32 games), while his eternal rival has not helped the super ambitious PSG to overcome the 1/8 finals of the Champions League, and in general often plays for the Parisians as if through force. Three goals scored in Ligue 1 is also an indicator, although he has made a dozen assists. The disappointment of the current owner of the Ballon d’Or is evident, the fans of Paris Saint-Germain are not shy in their expressions.
Top 10 contenders for the Ballon d’Or
If we talk about those who are on the verge of the top ten, we should mention Erling Holand (injuries prevented the Norwegian from being higher), Christian Nkunka having a great season at RB Leipzig, Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool and several more guys from Manchester City who share glory with the big crowd – Bernard Silva, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling. Thomas Muller, Sebastian Allaire, who has scored in seven consecutive Champions League games, and Dusan Vlahovic deserve a mention, no doubt.
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, England) = 14+8 in 35 games.
The Belgian had a tough start to the season but returned to his best form in 2022 and is now a key player for Manchester City. It was Kevin’s goal that earned City the victory over Atletico Madrid in a tough Champions League quarter-final. Reaching the Ballon d’Or will be difficult, but could climb into the top 5 if City win the APL and the LC, and De Bruyne will play a big role in those successes.
Here and below are performance statistics in games for the club
Diogo Jota (Liverpool; Portugal) = 20+3 in 41 games
Jota is solving and not only in games for the club, he also helped the Portuguese national team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, scoring in the qualifying games against Turkey and Northern Macedonia. In other matches Diogo becomes the most valuable player in the attack of Liverpool, and that he still misses a lot of chances. If he improves his realization, he’ll put Salah and Mane under his belt.
Riyad Marez (Manchester City; Algeria) = 22+7 in 37 games
It’s hard to single out Manchester City’s players personally: everyone at Guardiola is good, but the system is more important than the individuals. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore Mares’ statistics: City’s most productive player of the season has already scored 22 goals and made seven assists. His next scoring effort will be his 30th.
Vinicius Júnior (Real Madrid, Brazil) = 17+15 in 41 games
Vinicius has made big strides in the 2021/22 season, but he’s still got tremendous room to grow: he could be the best player in the world if he learns to be patient and stay calm. But even at 21, the Brazilian is the second most important player in the Real Madrid attack, and he’s already had 30+ assists in a season.
Sadio Mane (Liverpool; Senegal) = 15+7 in 38 games
Sadio Mane lacks the goals and assists to come close to the top, but he has team successes that cannot be ignored: he won the African Nations Cup with his team and also made it to the 2022 World Cup, in both cases scoring decisive penalties. These episodes make the humble Sadio a national hero.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia) = 3+8 in 36 games
Attacking players always have more chances for individual awards, although Modric has already picked up one Ballon d’Or, breaking the usual pattern. Individual play isn’t just about goals and assists, although Luka’s superb assists in the games against PSG and Chelsea were memorable. Modric is a great architect of the game and his age is no hindrance.
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool; Egypt) = 28+10 in 38 games
Salah’s four dozen assists is very cool, but Mo lost the decisive matches with the national team, and his great stats at the end of last year is not impressive at all in the decisive phase of the season: suffice it to say that he has only 3 goals a game for Liverpool in 2022. However, we do not discount Salah, because he has a luxurious statistical base, and if he gives a powerful April and May and wins big trophies with the “Reds”, then who knows…
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain; France) = 28+20 in 38 games
Mbappe is having a classy season, despite the fact that his future is being decided behind the scenes. If Neymar and Messi helped more, Mbappe could also be a major contender for the Ballon d’Or, but after an early Champions League exit, Kylian ran out of arguments for the two peers who appear to be playing for the award.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern; Poland) = 45+4 in 39 games
Lewandowski is close to the Ballon d’Or again, but he needs a crucial effort in the Champions League to get ahead of Benzema. No matter how much the new rules downplay the importance of team trophies, Europe’s two best forwards will decide the Champions League.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid; France) = 37+12 in 36 games
And to date, the emotional advantage is on the side of Benzema, who has won the favor of the crowd with his hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea. In terms of goals, Robert is ahead, but Karim is more than the completist, so on the sum of effective actions we see the equality. Well, and the aesthetic component, perhaps, for the Frenchman. He also won the Nations League with France, scoring goals against the Belgians and Spaniards. That’s another trump card for Benzema, but it will come into play if the Champions League doesn’t give a clear answer to the question, who is cooler in the 2021/22 season?