The rules may be changing slightly when it comes to the awarding of the Ballon d’Or in 2022, but the cream will always rise to the top when it comes to bids for a prestigious Golden Ball.
For well over a decade now, considering the merits of anybody not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in a battle to be named the best footballer on the planet has been a thankless task.
Between them, the two all-time greats have claimed first prize in 12 of the last 13 years. Times are changing, though, and while Luka Modric was an exception to the norm in 2018, new names are ready to be etched onto a famous trophy and into the annals of football folklore.
Last year’s football betting tips saw the likes of names like N’Golo Kante, Mo Salah, and Gianluigi Donnarumma contend for the acclaimed accolade of the Ballon d’Or. However, it was once again Lionel Messi that stole away with the victory, shutting down hopes of a new face for another year.
Evidently, there are now household names aplenty operating well beyond the walls of Old Trafford and Parc des Princes. Who, though, could land an ultimate individual gong in 2022 if Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain superstars are out of the picture?
Five contenders for the 2022 Ballon d’Or
Widely considered to be the heir to Messi and Ronaldo’s crown, the World Cup-winning France international is a man going places quickly.
His searing pace and astute eye for goal continue to torment defenses on domestic and European stages, with there every chance that he will be looking to impress in news surroundings next season as a contract at PSG runs down towards free agency.
The Egyptian king of Anfield could take the throne on a global stage, with Liverpool’s talismanic forward setting remarkable personal standards.
He has become a guarantee of 20-plus goals a season and could stand to benefit most from the decision of France Football not to include the 2022 World Cup within their selection criteria for this year’s Ballon d’Or winner.
A prolific Polish striker has every reason to believe that he should have a Golden Ball sat alongside his enviable collection of Golden Boots by now, with his record at Bayern Munich making for stunning reading.
The current campaign has seen him pass the 40-goal mark for a seventh successive season and there are still Bundesliga and Champions League trophies for him to chase down.
With the Ballon d’Or process now taking into account individual seasons, rather than calendar years, few can claim to have put themselves more in the picture than Real Madrid’s goal-getting captain.
His stunning hat-trick against PSG – which leaves him well placed to post a personal best return in 2021-22 – further highlighted how far out of Ronaldo’s shadow he has stepped at Santiago Bernabeu.
No goalkeeper has won the Ballon d’Or since Lev Yashin in 1963, but could that situation be about to change close to 60 years on? If anybody is capable of flying that flag for those operating between the sticks, then Chelsea shot-stopper Mendy would be that man.
He was won the Africa Cup of Nations this year and will hope to add to his medal collection at club level in the weeks to come.
Messi and Ronaldo may feel as though they are still in the mix – while the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Sadio Mane, and Vinicius Junior could yet have a major say in the final vote – but those currently leading the race will take some stopping as they start to scrap things out among themselves.