As we kick off another year of football, Ace Football names the 10 current favorites for the prestigious 2022 Ballon d’Or award.
After witnessing Lionel Messi claim a seventh Ballon d’Or last year, football’s biggest stars enter 2022 more determined than ever to lay their hands on the iconic award.
A combination of votes from football journalists, coaches, and team captains decides the winner of France Football’s annual accolade – only this year France Football has changed some rules.
The key one is that the votes will be based on performances for the 2021/22 season, instead of the calendar year. This means players won’t be judged for their World Cup games.
So, with these new factors in mind, Ace Football checks out the 10 current favorites to win the 66th edition of the Ballon d’Or as of August 2022.
10) Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) 🇧🇪
After his Man-of-the-Match display against Liverpool in the Champions League final, Thibaut Courtois gets our vote for the final top 10 berth in the Ballon d’Or power rankings.
The Belgium international proved why he is one of the best goalkeepers around with a string of impressive saves in Paris and throughout the campaign itself, helping Real Madrid win a superb double and later the UEFA Super Cup.
9) Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) 🏴
A defender hasn’t won the Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
While it’s unlikely Trent Alexander-Arnold will break that duck, his performances this season have been top-notch. In fact, in just 32 Premier League games last season, he made 14 goal contributions for Liverpool with a solid return of 12 assists.
For a full-back, that is impressive.
8) Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) 🇧🇪
Despite a bumpy start to the season, Kevin De Bruyne came good when it mattered most. His performances have helped Manchester City retain the Premier League title, despite a stiff challenge from Liverpool.
The Belgium international consistently found the back of the net during the second half of the 2021/22 campaign. At the end of it, he claimed the Premier League’s Player of the Season award yet again.
7) Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) 🇧🇷
The 22-year-old Brazilian raised his game under Carlo Ancelotti to become a key man for Real Madrid last season.
Despite Karim Benzema often stealing the spotlight, Vinicius’ impact didn’t go unnoticed. He quietly put away the goals and assists to help the club win LaLiga and the Spanish Super Cup, as well as scoring the match-winner in the UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool.
6) Luka Modric (Real Madrid) 🇭🇷
Aging is inevitable but class is permanent as a 36-year-old Luka Modric has proved time and time again during the 2021/22 campaign.
The 2018 Ballon d’Or winner was an integral part of the Real Madrid squad once again. His midfield heroics helped the club win the Spanish Super Cup, another La Liga title, a 14th Champions League crown, and most recently the UEFA Super Cup.
5) Kylian Mbappe (PSG) 🇫🇷
Kylian Mbappe is one of the dark horses for the 2022 Ballon d’Or.
Despite the uncertainty over his future, Mbappe continued to thrive for Paris Saint-Germain. The 23-year-old remained the club’s star man, delivering the goods in Ligue 1 and the Champions League. He later rebuffed interest from Real Madrid to put pen to paper on a new lucrative deal in France.
4) Robert Lewandowski (FC Barcelona) 🇵🇱
In what proved to be his final season at Bayern Munich, Robert Lewandowski made sure to go out with a bang.
The 33-year-old Pole smashed defenses in Germany and Europe once more. He scored a brilliant 35 goals in 34 Bundesliga games last season, and 12 goals in nine Champions League matches.
But Bayern Munich’s Champions League quarter-final exit to Villarreal in April makes Lewandowski unlikely to win this year’s Ballon d’Or. He goes again in 2022/23, only this time in the colors of La Liga giants FC Barcelona.
3) Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) 🇪🇬
While many fans questioned his seventh-place finish in last year’s Ballon d’Or, Mohamed Salah left his talking for the pitch instead.
The Liverpool man raised his game last season, with 23 goals and 13 assists in the Premier League, and he starred in the Champions League once again. His performances tailed off a little in the end, but it was still a solid campaign for Salah.
2) Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich) 🇸🇳
After scoring the winning penalty to seal Senegal a first-ever AFCON title against Egypt, Mane struck again shortly afterward to send the African champions to the World Cup at the expense of the Pharaohs.
As for Liverpool, Mane thrived once more. The 30-year-old scored some critical goals against the likes of Benfica and Manchester City. He ended the season on a purple patch of form to help the Reds win the FA Cup and EFL Cup. He is now plying his trade for reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich after completing a €32 million summer transfer.
1) Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) 🇫🇷
According to Ronaldo Nazario, Karim Benzema is the best striker in the world.
While you may agree or not with that, you can’t deny the Frenchman was brilliant last season. He comfortably finished top of the LaLiga goal charts, was a key man for the French national team again, and he played a vital role in Real Madrid’s double.
Benzema’s Champions League heroics, which include back-to-back hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea, helped Real Madrid win a 14th European crown. He cemented his status as the 2022 Ballon d’Or favorite by starring in the club’s 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup on August 10.