Benzema, Salah, Ronaldo: Who is favourite to win the 2022 Ballon d'Or?

  • Kobe Tong
Benzema carrying the Champions League trophy.

The Ballon d’Or revealed their 30 nominees for the top male prize on Friday evening.

France Football’s revered accolade has been given a new lick of paint this year with a renewed focus on individual performance; a reduction on the number of journalists voting and a switch in what’s being judged from the calendar year to the club season.

As such, it was fascinating to see which players would be in contention to take home the famous golden trophy lifted by the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazario and Johan Cruyff over the years.

Ballon d’Or nominees

And the results certainly didn’t disappoint because it looked until the very last minute that neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Lionel Messi would feature despite the pair winning 12 of the last 13 editions.

In the end, Ronaldo did indeed join the list of nominees on the back of a strong individual season at Manchester United, but Messi remained absent despite his historic haul of seven Ballon d’Or gongs.

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That alone is incredibly juicy within the context of football’s premier individual prize, never mind when you consider that Rodri, Thomas Muller and Thiago Alcantara were also conspicuous by their absence.

Marry that to the inclusions of Luis Duiz, Antonio Rudiger, Phil Foden, Darwin Nunez and others leaving fans to chat amongst themselves and you quickly see that it was an enthralling year for nominees.

But now we finally know who’s officially in contention to win the Ballon d’Or, who are actually the frontrunners to take home the prize and who doesn’t stand a cat in hell’s chance?

The Ballon d'Or trophy on display.
Soccer Football – La Liga Santander – Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – December 15, 2018 The Ballon d’Or trophy inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Juan Medina

Who are Ballon d’Or favourites?

Well, fear not, ladies and gentlemen, because after ranking the 30 nominees ourselves, we decided to take a more objective look at how the players are stacking up by turning our attentions to the bookies.

So, now that it’s the morning after the night before, we eyeballed the SkyBet odds – correct at the time of writing – for each of the contenders to see who they considered to be most and least likely to go all the way.

And you can check out how they fancied each player’s chances to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or by walking through the rank outsiders, dark horses and clear favourites down below:

=29. Rafael Leao (AC Milan): 250/1

Leao scores for AC Milan.
Soccer Football – Serie A – AC Milan v Atalanta – San Siro, Milan, Italy – May 15, 2022 AC Milan’s Rafael Leao celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

=29. Mike Maignan (AC Milan): 250/1

=27. Fabinho (Liverpool): 200/1

=27. Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid): 200/1

=19. Sebastien Haller (Borussia Dortmund): 150/1

=19. Luis Diaz (Liverpool): 150/1

Diaz in the Community Shield.
Soccer Football – Community Shield – Liverpool v Manchester City – King Power Stadium, Leicester, Britain – July 30, 2022 Manchester City’s Rodri in action with Liverpool’s Luis Diaz Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

=19. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich): 150/1

=19. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City): 150/1

=19. Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus): 150/1

=19. Darwin Nunez (Liverpool): 150/1

=19. Casemiro (Real Madrid): 150/1

Casemiro holds the UEFA Super Cup.
Soccer Football – European Super Cup – Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt – Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland – August 10, 2022 Real Madrid’s David Alaba and Casemiro celebrate with the trophy after winning the European Super Cup REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

=19. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City): 150/1

=16. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City): 100/1

=16. Heung-min Son (Tottenham Hotspur): 100/1

=16. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig): 100/1

=14. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool): 80/1

Alexander-Arnold scores for Liverpool.
Soccer Football – Premier League – Liverpool v Newcastle United – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – December 16, 2021 Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Peter Powell 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.

=14. Luka Modric (Real Madrid): 80/1

13. Phil Foden (Manchester City): 66/1

=10. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool): 40/1

=10. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid): 40/1

=10. Erling Haaland (Manchester City): 40/1

Haaland scores for Man City.
Soccer Football – Premier League – West Ham United v Manchester City – London Stadium, London, Britain – August 7, 2022 Manchester City’s Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Tony Obrien 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.

=7. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid): 33/1

=7. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur): 33/1

=7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United): 33/1

6. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain): 25/1

=4. Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona): 20/1

Lewandowski signs for Barcelona.
Soccer Football – FC Barcelona unveil Robert Lewandowski – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – August 5, 2022 FC Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski during his presentation REUTERS/Albert Gea

=4. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool): 20/1

=2. Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich): 16/1

=2. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City): 16/1

  1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid): 1/25
Benzema lifts the UEFA Super Cup.
Soccer Football – European Super Cup – Real Madrid v Eintracht Frankfurt – Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland – August 10, 2022 Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates with the trophy after winning the European Super Cup REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Benzema nailed on to win

Give the man the trophy right now. It’s got his name on it.

Look, it’s the worst kept secret in football that Benzema is going to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or and boy does he deserve it on the back of scoring 44 goals and lifting the Champions League and La Liga trophies.

However, that doesn’t make it any less interesting to see how the other nominees are stacked up, because it essentially serves as a prism through which we can rank the best performers of 2022/23.

We’re a little surprised to see De Bruyne, who was rather generously garlanded with the Premier League Player of the Season award, finishing neck and neck with Mane and his stellar season of FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Africa Cup of Nations glory.

De Bruyne and Mane in action.
Soccer Football – Champions League Quarter Final First Leg – Liverpool vs Manchester City – Anfield, Liverpool, Britain – April 4, 2018 Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in action with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne REUTERS/Andrew Yates

But we do agree with the bookies’ estimations that a minor miracle would need to happen for the likes of Maignan, Haller, Diaz, Vlahovic and Leao to be crowned the world’s best player despite their admirable efforts.

So while it seems to be a given that Benzema will bag himself the top men’s prize come October 17, it will still be fascinating to see how the remaining 29 nominees line up behind him. Bring it on.

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