Lionel Messi won the most coveted individual accolade in men’s football for the seventh time in 2021, and Ajokeonifaari is back to chronicle the battle for the honor.
The Ballon d’Or remains the most prestigious individual award in international football, despite the controversy and criticism it creates, and the race to win the honor in 2022 is well and fully underway.
Lionel Messi is chasing an eighth Golden Ball after winning the trophy on both of the previous two occasions. However, he will face stiff competition to achieve his goal.
The contest in 2022 is expected to be the most competitive yet, though it is unclear when it will end.
We’ll assume that the most prestigious tournament in the game will be taken into account for the sake of Ajokeonifaari’s power rankings, which accurately predicted the top three finishers in 2021, and that voting for the prize will be delayed a few weeks.
So, with ten months left in the year and Qatar 2022 on the horizon, who carries the greatest clout in this year’s Ballon d’Or race?
No.10 Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig): 10 goals, 3 assists in 2022.
It would be unjust to call RB Leipzig a one-man show, but there is perhaps no player in the world right now carrying his team to the same level as Christopher Nkunku.
With Leipzig still in the Europa League and DFB-Pokal, the ex-Paris Saint-Germain winger has already surpassed double figures in both goals and assists in 2021-22.
Nkunku’s progress could possibly earn him a first call-up from France, placing him in an excellent position to play for the pre-tournament favorites at the 2022 World Cup.
No.9 Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli). Three clean sheets The Africa Cup of Nations was won in 2022.
It’s been a couple of years since Kalidou Koulibaly was considered one of the best central defenders in the world, but he’s demonstrated in the last six months that it’s still too early to write him off.
The 30-year-old has been at his best during Napoli’s Serie A title defense, and despite Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to AC Milan, he might still complete the season with a Scudetto.
However, Koulibaly has already won one trophy, since he was a key member of Senegal’s team that won the Africa Cup of Nations.
No.8 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) will have scored one goal in 2022
Despite the five-time Ballon d’Or winner producing the occasional moment of magic, Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United has not gone according to plan.
Ronaldo has had a difficult start to the 2022 season, and with United knowing that they will finish the season without a title unless they win the Champions League, the pressure is on the Portugal international to perform in the competition he has made his own in recent years.
If he can’t deliver, he’ll be out of the running for the Ballon d’Or this year, and that’s before even considering the possibility that he’ll miss out on a place at the World Cup if the play-offs in March don’t go his way.
No.7. In 2022, Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund) scored four goals and added one assist.
Over the course of his career, Erling Haaland will undoubtedly be in contention for numerous Ballons d’Or, but the race in 2022 is unlikely to be one in which he will play a significant role.
Borussia Dortmund is already out of Europe and on track to conclude the season without a title, and Haaland’s presence will not be enough to help Norway qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1998.
If there is any player who can overcome these barriers and go on the kind of run that will force him into the Ballon d’Or conversation, it is Haaland, but he must first overcome the injuries that have plagued him throughout 2021-22.
No.6 In 2022, Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain) has one goal and one assist.
Neymar joined PSG in part to win the Ballon d’Or, but he has never felt further away from capturing the trophy than he does right now (even if the award ceremony only takes place down the road).
With injuries and bad form limiting his impact on Mauricio Pochettino’s side, he has become the third wheel in Les Parisiens’ assault.
Because he plays for PSG and Brazil, two teams who are among the favorites to win the Champions League and the World Cup, he cannot be ruled out of a run for the Ballon d’Or this year, but it currently appears doubtful.
No.5 In 2022, Kai Havertz (Chelsea) has five goals and one assist. Club World Cup was won.
Given his erratic form at Chelsea, Kai Havertz’s presence on this list may seem a stretch, but there is logic to him being a dark horse in the early stages of the Ballon d’Or competition.
This year, the former Bayer Leverkusen striker has already scored the game-winning goal in the Club World Cup final, and he is beginning to cement his position as Thomas Tuchel’s favorite central striker ahead of Romelu Lukaku.
Havertz will almost certainly need to keep scoring important goals in both the Champions League and for Germany at the World Cup if he wants to be considered for individual awards.
However, all indications are that he is ready to show why the Blues paid such a high price to get him to Stamford Bridge.
No.4 Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (seven goals, four assists) in 2022 Supercopa de Espana was won.
Karim Benzema continues to improve for Real Madrid, so could this be the year he breaks through to win his first Ballon d’Or?
The Blancos skipper has already surpassed double figures in La Liga goals and assists this season, and will be hoping to inspire a comeback against PSG to keep Madrid in contention for a 14th European Cup.
He’ll also be leading the line for France at the 2022 World Cup, which means he’ll have plenty of high-profile opportunities to attract the attention of the world.
No.3 Edouard Mendy, (Chelsea)
In the year 2022, there will be seven clean sheets. The Africa Cup of Nations and the Club World Cup were both won by the team.
To win the Ballon d’Or, you need a special goalkeeper, and Edouard Mendy has done little to put himself in contention so far this season.
He went straight from Cameroon to the United Arab Emirates to help Chelsea win the Club World Cup. He was the penalty shootout hero for Senegal as they won the Africa Cup of Nations.
Had he stayed on for penalties at Wembley, he could have added a Carabao Cup winner’s medal to his collection, after putting in what would have been a Man-of-the-Match-winning performance had the Blues beaten Liverpool.
No.2 Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): Seven goals and two assists in 2022. Carabao Cup was won.
If there were voting for the greatest player in Europe this season, Mohamed Salah would almost surely win after his incredible season with Liverpool.
Salah, the Premier League’s Golden Boot leader, has been in imperious form for Jurgen Klopp’s side, and has already assisted them in winning the first of what might be four titles.
He also led Egypt to the Africa Cup of Nations final, and he’ll be hoping that losing in a penalty shootout to Senegal won’t cost him a significant individual trophy at the end of the year.
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) scored nine goals and added two assists in 2022.
Ballon d’Or voters follow two primary rules: they admire trophies, and they give extra credit to achievements on the grandest stage.
As a result, Kylian Mbappe’s performance and late victory for PSG against Real Madrid will have drew a lot of attention, with his shot proving to be the most memorable moment of the Champions League season thus far.
When you consider that Mbappe will be the captain of France as they attempt to defend their World Cup title in Qatar, there’s no doubt that he has the most potential to create the moments and win the prizes that will help him win the Ballons d’Or.
However, it’s now up to you to make that possibility a reality.
Keep following for more updates.