Messi, Ronaldo, Salah: Who will win the 2022 Ballon d'Or?

  • Kobe Tong

The 2022 Ballon d’Or will be a unique affair.

While it might seem as though it’s only been two seconds since Lionel Messi triumphed at the 2021 ceremony, the new rule changes mean that the latest edition could be judged sooner than ever.

As confirmed by the BBC, France Football announced earlier this month that the Ballon d’Or will now be based on performances across a season as opposed to the calendar year, as had been tradition.

A historic Ballon d’Or

According to Goal, the rule change was clarified with the following explanation: “The next edition will therefore take into account the entire 2021-22 season which will end with the Women’s Euro (July 6-31, 2022).

“The World Cup in Qatar (November 21-December 18, 2022) will, however, be included in the 2023 Ballon d’Or edition.”

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In other words, while another round of the Ballon d’Or might seem a million miles away, the new rules mean that all the data on which the prize-giving will be based should be wrapped up in just a few months.

Sure, there are still major trophies to be handed out between now and France Football’s cut-off point for Ballon d’Or consideration, but we’re still essentially 80% of the way through the time period that will inform the winner.

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Odds on 2022 Ballon d’Or winner

As such, we thought that it only made sense to touch base with who the leading contenders are to lift the famous golden football with Mohamed Salah having already lost his grip on his position as favourite.

While the Liverpool star was leading the race on the back of the Africa Cup of Nations final, despite suffering defeat to Senegal, he’s now only second in the race to be crowned the world’s best male player.

But who gets the better of him? Well, be sure to find out by perusing the 24 most fancied players in Paddy Power’s current odds for the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner – correct at the time of writing – down below:

=20. Mason Mount – 66/1

Soccer Football – Premier League – Norwich City v Chelsea – Carrow Road, Norwich, Britain – March 10, 2022 Chelsea’s Mason Mount celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Chris Radburn EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club /league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.

=20. Trent Alexander-Arnold – 66/1

=20. Riyad Mahrez – 66/1

=20. Joshua Kimmich – 66/1

=20. Dusan Vlahovic – 66/1

Soccer Football – Coppa Italia – Quarter Final – Juventus v U.S. Sassuolo – Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy – February 10, 2022 Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

=16. Thomas Muller – 50/1

=16. Raheem Sterling – 50/1

=16. Bernardo Silva – 50/1

=16. Pedri – 50/1

=13. Vinicius Junior – 40/1

Soccer Football – LaLiga – Real Madrid v Valencia – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – January 8, 2022 Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Susana Vera

=13. Virgin van Dijk – 40/1

=13. N’Golo Kante – 40/1

12. Phil Foden – 33/1

=10. Sadio Mane – 25/1

=10. Neymar – 25/1

Soccer Football – World Cup – South American Qualifiers – Brazil v Uruguay – Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil- October 14, 2021 Brazil’s Neymar celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

=8. Erling Haaland – 20/1

=8. Cristiano Ronaldo – 20/1

=6. Harry Kane – 16/1

=6. Kevin De Bruyne – 16/1

5. Lionel Messi – 12/1

Soccer Football – Champions League – Group A – Paris St Germain v Manchester City – Parc des Princes, Paris, France – September 28, 2021 Paris St Germain’s Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal with Neymar REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

4. Kylian Mbappe – 15/2

3. Karim Benzema – 7/1

2. Mohamed Salah – 9/2

  1. Robert Lewandowski -5/2
Soccer Football – Bundesliga – Bayern Munich v FC Augsburg – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany – May 22, 2021 Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their fifth goal Pool via REUTERS/Christof Stache DFL regulations prohibit any use of photographs as image sequences and/or quasi-video.

Lewandowski leads the way

It needs to happen, doesn’t it?

A combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and Messi’s seventh triumph have led to a head-scratching situation where Lewandowski has never won a Ballon d’Or despite his crazy form in recent years.

However, the switch to a season-based criteria system might just be the change that the Bayern Munich forward needs to get his hands on France Football’s premier prize as he continues to thrive.

Lewandowski boasts a staggering record of 45 goals in just 37 appearances that could well fire him and his teammates to the Champions League title that surely wrap up a Ballon d’Or triumph.

Soccer Football – World Cup – UEFA Qualifiers – Path B Playoff Final – Poland v Sweden – Silesian Stadium, Chorzow, Poland – March 29, 2022 Poland’s Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

And there’s not any World Cup bias to worry about, which is critical for Lewandowski when you consider that Poland’s small chances of making a major impact in Qatar would hold him back.

So, there you have it, the sport’s goalscorer in chief has currently got the edge on Salah in a historic Ballon d’Or race that Benzema, Mbappe, Messi, Ronaldo and more are all battling away in.

But a lot can change between now and the end of the season even with the new rules, so let’s hear your predictions: let us know us know who you think will win the 2022 Ballon d’Or across our social channels.

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