After a fallow Ballon d’Or year for Lionel Messi in 2022, he is out in front of the 2023 betting…for a trophy he won in 2022.
This doesn’t seem quite right but the World Cup being in November/December 2022 means that the first chance to give Messi an eighth trophy will be October 2023.
1) Lionel Messi
He is odds-on favourite for what would surely be his eighth and final Ballon d’Or after he won the World Cup in 2022. It doesn’t seem right. Winning the Ballon as an Inter Miami player will be a flex.
2) Erling Haaland
The narrative dictates that Haaland and Mbappe will be locked in a decade-long battle for Ballons d’Or. Realistically, Haaland will know that his Norwegian-ness means that he probably needed to win the Champions League. He won it but it’s still unlikely to be enough in a year when he is likely to score the most goals too.
3) Kevin De Bruyne
Third last year but had a poor World Cup. At 31, he might quite reasonably think that he has been unlucky to be at his peak in the Messi years. Especially after he won a Treble.
Scored the winner in the Champions League final after being imperious in the Manchester City midfield. But Messi.
5=) Ilkay Gundogan
The Treble-winning captain. That Messi World Cup really has put a spanner in the Manchester City works because they really should have their first Ballon d’Or winner after that season.
5=) Harry Kane
Hard to claim the Ballon d’Or without actually, you know, winning anything.
Oh do f*** off.
5=) Vinicius Junior
“Benzema, well deserved top player!!” Neymar wrote on Twitter. “But Vini jr in 8th it’s a joke. He’s top 3 minimum.”
But the truth is that it is very, very hard to win the Ballon d’Or as a young man. Even when you are brilliant. But especially when you are pocketed by Kyle Walker over two Champions League semi-final legs.
5=) Kylian Mbappe
Five times he has finished in the top 10 but never even reached the podium. That’s unlikely to change this year with only domestic honours in the bag. No wonder he wants to leave PSG.
5=) Karim Benzema
Last year’s winner but realistically, he is unlikely to get the chance again. Especially as he was absent from the 2022 World Cup which is apparently intrinsic to the 2023 award. And especially because he has now buggered off to Saudi Arabia.