The Ballon d’Or ranks as the most prestigious individual award in world football, the coronation of a player as the planet’s finest talent.
While the Argentine’s omission was slightly controversial, a universally popular choice has been for players to be judged throughout a season rather than a calendar year, making it a bit easier to rate just how they did.
This means players won’t be judged for their World Cup games.
We’ve cut France Football’s shortlist to give us five frontrunners and ranked them based on their chances of winning.
Kylian Mbappe is backing Karim Benzema to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or ????? pic.twitter.com/SAH1txknJn
— Football España (@footballespana_) August 13, 2022
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.
.@lewy_official out in front all on his own ⚽️?
Which of the top 5️⃣ scorers this season was most impressive? pic.twitter.com/2R2xrqD4Pa
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) May 25, 2022
The 33-year-old Pole smashed defences 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 colours 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 afterwards 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 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.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 25, 2022
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 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 favourite by starring in the club’s 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Super Cup on August 10.