The 2021 Ballon d’Or will be absolutely fascinating to watch.
However, the drama doesn’t end there, because the situation is made all the more exciting by the fact that there isn’t a clear favourite for the trophy as we enter the business end of the 2021/22 season.
Leading Ballon d’Or contenders
Plus, we’re not that far away from having an exhaustive data set on which to make our judgements with France Football confirming this year that a series of major rule changes will be introduced in 2022.
Most notably, the judging criteria will now be based upon the previous season as opposed to the calendar year, which means that players only have a few weeks left to stake their claim on the trophy.
So, bearing that in mind, we wanted to look at the state of play here at GIVEMESPORT before some of the biggest trophies, such as the Champions League, that could inform the winner are wrapped up.
In fact, we really wanted to look at the Ballon d’Or title for the individual prize that it should be by looking at the statistics of who we consider to be the biggest male contenders in isolation.
Man Utd 1-1 Chelsea Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Benzema vs Salah vs Lewandowski
And while personal choices for the winner might well be debatable, we like to think that it’s beyond reproach that Mohamed Salah, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski are the top three candidates.
Agreed? Ok, sure, you can’t please everybody, but there’s a swelling hype surrounding Salah and Benzema right now, while fans shouldn’t forget just how incredible Lewandowski has been yet again.
And with the added bonus that all three players feature in broadly similar positions – yes, Salah is not an out-and-out winger – we couldn’t resist putting their 2021/22 statistics to the test.
To do so, we’ve called upon the Squawka Comparison Matrix to compare all three Ballon d’Or contenders by their league output this season across what we consider to be the 33 most important data sets for a forward.
We’ve then toggled the ‘per 90’ filter to ensure that there isn’t any bias towards players who have featured on the pitch more often than their rivals.
Who has the best 2021/22 stats?
It’s by no means a perfect system, but it’s one of the most comprehensive and exhaustive ways that we can weigh up how Benzema, Lewandowski and Salah compare across the 2021/22 campaign.
So, without further ado, be sure to check out how the three leading contenders for Ballon d’Or glory are shaping up as we head towards the business end of the season down below:
- Opta Performance Index – Karim Benzema
- Games played – Mohamed Salah and Robert Lewandowski
- Ball recoveries – Mohamed Salah
- Possession lost (fewest wins) – Karim Benzema
- Offsides (fewest wins) – Mohamed Salah
- Goals – Robert Lewandowski
- Non-penalty goals – Robert Lewandowski
- Penalty goals – Karim Benzema
- Goals from inside the box – Robert Lewandowski
- Goals from outside the box – Mohamed Salah and Robert Lewandowski
- Headed goals – Robert Lewandowski
- Direct free-kick goals – N/A
- Right-footed goals – Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski
- Left-footed goals – Mohamed Salah
- Conversion rate % – Karim Benzema
- Shots – Robert Lewandowski
- Shot accuracy % – Robert Lewandowski
- Shots on target – Robert Lewandowski
- Assists – Karim Benzema and Mohamed Salah
- Chances created – Karim Benzema
- Passes completed – Karim Benzema
- Pass accuracy % – Karim Benzema
- Successful long passes – Karim Benzema
- Crossing accuracy % – Robert Lewandowski
- Successful lay-offs – Karim Benzema
- Tackles made – Mohamed Salah
- Take-ons completed – Mohamed Salah
- Take-on success % – Karim Benzema
- Fouls won – Robert Lewandowski
- Penalties won – Mohamed Salah and Robert Lewandowski
- Aerial duels won – Robert Lewandowski
- Ground duels won – Mohamed Salah
- Interceptions – Mohamed Salah
Robert Lewandowski – 12
Karim Benzema – 11
Mohamed Salah – 9
Lewandowski takes the win
Put some respect on Lewandowski’s name.
With all the hype surrounding Salah and Benzema at the moment, it’s easy to forget that Lewandowski is enjoying a third consecutive year of Ballon d’Or-contending form.
It’s almost universally agreed that Lewandowski deserved the 2020 Ballon d’Or had it been presented and many fans believe that he should have pipped Messi to the post last time out.
However, fans of the Bayern Munich star can rest assured that he’ll once again be in the hunt because his record of 48 goals in just 43 games this season really is mind-boggling.
And it’s that goalscoring lethality that really gives Lewandowski some big wins in our statistical comparison, even if Benzema still held his own with right-footed goals and conversion rate.
Meanwhile, Salah’s convincing defeat in the data might suggest that he needs a late-season push to secure the golden football that looked almost certain to be destined for his hands at the start of the campaign.
But even if you want to turn your nose up at the statistics and make up your own mind, let it serve to show that we have an incredible Ballon d’Or race coming up if nothing else. We can’t wait.