Chelsea: Is England star Millie Bright a dark horse for the Ballon d’Or?

Millie Bright

A defender has yet to win the Ballon d’Or Féminin – could Chelsea’s Millie Bright be the first? 

The centre-back played a pivotal role for the Lionesses this summer as England claimed their first ever major tournament silverware at Euro 2022. 

Bright started all six of England’s matches and was part of a defence that conceded just two goals in total. 

The 28-year-old received particular praise for her performance against Spain in the quarter-finals, where she was named UEFA’s Player of the Match. 

But Bright’s impressive form has not just come at international level, with the defender also a vital member of the Chelsea side that won a third consecutive Women’s Super League title and the Women’s FA Cup last year. 

Having featured in every game of the Blues’ title triumph, Bright kept 14 clean sheets as Chelsea let in just 11 goals all season. 

Bright might not always steal the headlines, yet her achievements over the course of the past 12 months mean she could no doubt be in contention. 

The problem is, based on previous years, the Ballon d’Or has always favoured attack-minded players, with goals and assists rewarded more than defensive contributions. 

Norway star Ada Hegerberg, US legend Megan Rapinoe and Barcelona maestro Alexia Putellas have been the three winners to date. 

England’s Lucy Bronze finished second in 2019, but she is the only defender to crack the top three so far. 

Millie Bright

Other Chelsea stars nominated 

Bright is not the only Chelsea player nominated for the Ballon d’Or this year. 

Striker Sam Kerr has also made the shortlist, having won the WSL Golden Boot for the second consecutive year. 

The Australian scored 20 league goals in just 20 games and registered four assists as well. 

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Kerr finished third in the Ballon d’Or voting last year, behind Putellas and fellow Barca star Jenni Hermoso. 

Chelsea captain Magda Eriksson and England star Fran Kirby have not been nominated this year, having made the cut in 2021. 

Sam Kerr has been nominated for the Ballon d'Or Féminin

Who’s the favourite? 

There is a strong chance that Kerr could scoop the award for the first time, having come so close last year. 

Yet, though the Blues forward enjoyed a stunning domestic campaign, voters may be swayed by some of those who shone at Euro 2022 this summer. 

Bright is one of those who fits this criteria — as is England teammate Beth Mead, who won Player of the Tournament, after scoring six goals, including a hat-trick against Norway. 

Beth Mead

Meanwhile, Barca star Putellas had another outstanding domestic season. However, the midfielder tore her ACL shortly before Euro 2022 and if recency bias counts for anything, then the Spaniard may find herself out of contention. 

The winner of the award will be announced on October 17th, 2022.

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