Vinicius 4th, Sadio Mane 2nd ... Ranking of the first 5 favorites for the Ballon d'Or 2022

Vinicius 4th, Sadio Mane 2nd … Ranking of the first 5 favorites for the Ballon d’Or 2022

The winner of the Ballon d’Or 2022 will be chosen on October 17, two months earlier than the usual date. The annual prize is awarded by the French news magazine France Football to the most successful footballer in a calendar year.

The Ballon d’Or is, without a doubt, the most prestigious individual award in football. The winner is chosen by a combination of votes from media representatives, national team captains and coaches.

The race for the Ballon d’Or is heating up and it will be even more intense when the ball starts rolling in the 2022-23 season. France Football will publish the list of 30 pre-selected players on August 12. But we already have a pretty good idea of ​​who the main contenders for the prize will be this year.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five contenders for the Ballon d’Or this year.

#5 Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Barcelona)

Robert Lewandowski picked up his second consecutive European Golden Boot in the 2021-22 season, scoring 35 goals for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

Lewandowski has been Europe’s most prolific goalscorer for some time and netted 50 times and provided seven assists in 46 appearances in all competitions last season. He also played a key role in Poland’s qualification for the World Cup.

The 33-year-old scored a goal in the World Cup qualifying final against Sweden and his contributions were essential for Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga title. However, with only the Bundesliga title in his trophy cabinet this year, Lewandowski might once again fall short of winning the Ballon d’Or.

Lewandowski left Bayern Munich to join FC Barcelona earlier this summer for a fee of 45 million euros.

#4 Vinicius Jr. (Brazil/Real Madrid)

Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22

Vinicius Jr. truly heralded his arrival on the big stage in the 2021-22 season. He’s gone from being a mercurial talent blowing hot and cold to doubling down to break out and become one of the best strikers in Europe.

Vinicius was in phenomenal form with Real Madrid last season. He was confident in his stride and set back defenders every time he touched the ball. The Brazilian winger also formed a wonderful partnership with Karim Benzema and the duo helped Real Madrid top La Liga.

In 52 appearances in all competitions in the 2021-22 season, Vinicius has scored 22 goals and provided 20 assists. He scored the only goal in the Champions League final for Real Madrid against Liverpool and was crucial in making Los Blancos the champions of Europe.

Vinicius was a vital cog in the team which also won the La Liga title last season. The 22-year-old must be a top contender to win the Ballon d’Or this year.

#3 Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)

Paris Saint-Germain v Kawasaki Frontale - Preseason Friendly

Kylian Mbappe’s stats in the 2021-22 season should be enough to earn him a spot on the Ballon d’Or podium. In 46 appearances in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe has scored 39 goals and provided 26 assists.

He has established himself as the most intimidating striker in Europe right now. The Frenchman finds a way to influence almost every game he plays and is prolific in his goal contributions.

However, just like Lewandowski, Mbappe’s chances of winning the Ballon d’Or are limited as he only has the Ligue 1 title to his name last season.

#2 Sadio Mané (Senegal/Bayern Munich)

RB Leipzig v FC Bayern München - Supercup 2022

Sadio Mané had a tough time in the first half of the 2021-22 season. But he returned to his best after the turn of the year. He kicked in his wake and has been in sensational form for both club and country in 2022.

He led Senegal to a triumphant run at AFCON 2021 and was named Player of the Tournament. He also led them to qualification for the World Cup. Back at Liverpool, he made the transition as a centre-forward and ended up being quite solid.

Mane finished the 2021-22 season with 23 goals and five assists in 51 appearances in all competitions for Jurgen Klopp’s side last season. The 30-year-old was also recently named CAF Player of the Year.

He was also crucial for Liverpool in their FA Cup and League Cup wins. By virtue of all these accomplishments, Mane is a prime contender for the 2022 Ballon d’Or. He joined Bayern Munich from Liverpool earlier this summer for a fee of €32m.

#1 Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid)

Real Madrid CF v Valencia CF - La Liga Santander

Karim Benzema is the big favorite to win the Ballon d’Or this year. In fact, it would be criminal to deny Benzema the Ballon d’Or after the year he has had. His individual talent helped Real Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League last season.

The Frenchman was in dazzling form for Los Blancos in the Champions League knockout stages last season. He notably scored hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea, respectively in the eighth and quarter-finals, before scoring twice against Manchester City in the semi-finals.

It should also be noted that he scored the winning goal in the matches against these three teams. Benzema finished the 2021-22 season with 44 goals and 15 assists in 46 appearances in all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti’s men last season.

He was also La Liga’s top scorer in the 2021-22 season, with 27 goals to his name in 32 appearances.

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