Ballon d'Or

Ballon d'Or 2022: The favourites - ranked

Sean Walsh
Vinicius and Benzema are among the leading contenders
Vinicius and Benzema are among the leading contenders / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages
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France Football have released their 30-player shortlist for the 2022 Ballon d'Or, and the headline news was that Lionel Messi was not among the nominees for the first time since 2005.

While the Argentine's omission was slightly controversial (it's not as if he was going to win the award anyway), a universally popular choice has been for players to be judged over the course of a season rather than a calendar year, making it a bit easier to rate just how they did.

We've sliced France Football's shortlist in half to give us 15 frontrunners and ranked them based on their chances of winning. Let's get stuck in.



Rafael Leao, Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva and Son Heung-min in action for Milan, Manchester City and Tottenham
Our first three first entries hail from Portugal / Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images, Clive Brunskill/Getty Images, Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

15. Rafael Leao

Club: AC Milan
Relevant stats: 42 games, 14 goals, 12 assists
Team honours: Serie A
Individual honours: Serie A MVP

23-year-old Leao has been touted to become a superstar for a few years now, and this was the season where he stepped up, leading Milan's charge to their first Scudetto since 2011.


14. Joao Cancelo

Club: Manchester City
Relevant stats: 52 games, 3 goals, 10 assists, 21 clean sheets
Team honours: Premier League
Individual honours: PFA Team of the Year

Whether playing on the left or the right, attacking full-back Cancelo became a staple of Manchester City's title-winning side, moving away from Pep Guardiola's FPL rotation and becoming a key man.


13. Bernardo Silva

Club: Manchester City
Relevant stats: 50 games, 13 goals, 7 assists
Team honours: Premier League
Individual honours: PFA Team of the Year

For a brief period at the start of the season, Silva looked to be making a charge for the PFA Player of the Year award. His form tailed off a little, but he was still one of the Premier League's most impressive players.


12. Son Heung-min

Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Relevant stats: 45 games, 24 goals, 10 assists
Team honours: None
Individual honours: Premier League Golden Boot

23 Premier League goals, zero penalties. Somehow omitted from the PFA Team of the Year. Yes I'm still angry about it.


Thibaut Courtois, Joshua Kimmich, Christopher Nkunku and Kylian Mbappe in action during 2021/22
Courtois, Kimmich, Nkunku and Mbappe shone brightly / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images, Boris Streubel/Getty Images, RONNY HARTMANN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images, Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

11. Thibaut Courtois

Club: Real Madrid
Relevant stats: 51 games, 22 clean sheets
Team honours: La Liga, Champions League, Supercopa de Espana
Individual honours: Champions League Team of the Season, Champions League final Man of the Match

Courtois has spoken at length about how he feels disrespected by the media, that he's perennially underrated. He silenced all of his doubters last season.


10. Joshua Kimmich

Club: Bayern Munich
Relevant stats: 39 games, 3 goals, 12 assists
Team honours: Bundesliga
Individual honours: Bundesliga Team of the Season

There hasn't been as much hype around Kimmich this year, but that's just how lofty his standards are now. He's still unbelievable.


9. Christopher Nkunku

Club: RB Leipzig
Relevant stats: 51 games, 32 goals, 20 assists
Team honours: DFB-Pokal
Individual honours: Bundesliga Player of the Season, Bundesliga Team of the Season, Europa League Team of the Season

Nkunku has been bubbling away as a top player for Leipzig, but last season made him too good to leave out of conversations like this. Perhaps the biggest sign of his progress is the new widespread incredulity that PSG ever let him leave.


8. Kylian Mbappe

Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Relevant stats: 46 games, 39 goals, 26 assists
Team honours: Ligue 1
Individual honours: Ligue 1 Player of the Year, Ligue 1 Team of the Year, Ligue 1 Top Goalscorer

Hey, speaking of PSG...

Mbappe may still not have won the Champions League, but it certainly wasn't for the want of trying - he put Real Madrid to the sword, his teammates didn't follow.


Luka Modric, Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mane and Vinicius Junior in action during 2021/22
Modric, Lewandowski, Mane and Vinicius Just missed the podium / David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images, Stuart Franklin/Getty Images, Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images, Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

7. Luka Modric

Club: Real Madrid
Relevant stats: 44 games, 3 goals, 12 assists
Team honours: La Liga, Champions League, Supercopa de Espana
Individual honours: Champions League Team of the Season

Where Mbappe failed though, Modric and co succeeded, with the Croatian continuing to age like a fine wine and picking his moments when to take his game up a few gears.


6. Robert Lewandowski

Club: Bayern Munich/Barcelona
Relevant stats: 46 games, 50 goals, 7 assists
Team honours: Bundesliga
Individual honours: European Golden Shoe, Bundesliga Team of the Season, Bundesliga Top Goalscorer

The only player in this to have scored more goals than to have games played last season. Lewandowski's still got it.


5. Sadio Mane

Club: Liverpool/Bayern Munich
Relevant stats: 51 games, 23 goals, 5 assists
Team honours: EFL Cup, FA Cup, AFCON (with Senegal)
Individual honours: PFA Team of the Year, African Footballer of the Year

After an off year by his own expectations, Mane came roaring back with a vengeance. There's every chance he'll rank even higher next year after moving to Bayern, too.


4. Vinicius Junior

Club: Real Madrid
Relevant stats: 52 games, 22 goals, 12 assists
Team honours: La Liga, Champions League, Supercopa de Espana
Individual honours: Champions League Team of the Season

Remember when Karim Benzema insisted that Vinicius was 'playing against' Real Madrid? Seems a million years ago now, eh?


Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Karim Benzema in action during 2021/22
De Bruyne, Salah and Benzema make 90min's top three / Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images, Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

3. Kevin De Bruyne

Club: Manchester City
Relevant stats: 45 games, 19 goals, 14 assists
Team honours: Premier League
Individual honours: PFA Team of the Year, Champions League Team of the Season, Premier League Player of the Season

The only thing that's capable of stopping De Bruyne is injuries, and thankfully those were few and far between last season.


2. Mohamed Salah

Club: Liverpool
Relevant stats: 51 games, 31 goals, 16 assists
Team honours: EFL Cup, FA Cup
Individual honours: PFA Player of the Year, PFA Team of the Year, FWA Men's Footballer of the Year, Premier League Golden Boot, Premier League Playmaker Award

As you can see by his footballing CV, Salah was pretty obviously the best player in England last season. Unfortunately for him, someone else on the continent trumped even his achievements.


1. Karim Benzema

Club: Real Madrid
Relevant stats: 46 games, 44 goals, 15 assists
Team honours: La Liga, Champions League, Supercopa de Espana
Individual honours: La Liga Best Player, La Liga Team of the Season, Champions League Player of the Season, Champions League Team of the Season

If Benzema doesn't win the 2022 Ballon d'Or then I will eat a shoe. Screenshot this, save it, frame it for all I care. It's set in stone and deservedly so.

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