The 2022–2023 European football season came to a close with the Champions League final in Istanbul. All parties involved had a demanding season because of the hectic schedule and the break all leagues received for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
A local Rodri curler made the difference in a tense match at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium. As Manchester City accomplished an unprecedented treble, it was a strike of historic proportions.
Therefore, there is little doubt that the World Cup and the Champions League will be significant factors in choosing who will win the Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious individual award in football.
6. Ilkay Gundogan
Do we refer to him as Mr. Clutch instead? The odds against Gundogan winning the Premier League and the FA Cup for his team in his first season as captain have greatly increased.
De Bruyne and Haaland are undoubtedly superior to him in his own squad, but it is impossible to ignore his 13 and seven goals, particularly toward the end of the season. He joins a select group of captains who have led their teams to three victories.
5. Vinicius Junior,
It’s a good thing then that the Ballon d’Or award frequently considers your individual performances in addition to the types of awards you’ve won. The Brazilian won the UEFA Super Cup, Club World Club, and Copa Del Rey to cap off the year.
But aside from Messi, he is the only player in Europe’s top 5 leagues to have recorded at least 20 goals (24), at least 20 assists (25), and both in all competitions.
4. Kylian Mbappe
In the event that Messi wins the argument due to the World Cup, Kylian Mbappe, who will shortly leave Paris Saint-Germain, deserves to be mentioned as well.
Despite a historic performance that saw him capture a hat-trick on December 18 at the Qatar World Cup, Mbappe was unfortunate not to win the championship. He didn’t get the trophy, but he did get the Golden Boot.
Along with winning Ligue 1, he has contributed 14 assists and 53 goals this season throughout all competitions.
3. Kevin De Bruyne,
The Belgian tragically limped out of the Champions League final, the second final in which he had to leave because of an injury.
Despite acting strangely in a few games this season, he has nonetheless played a similar role to Haaland in defining City’s season. The 31-year-old, who registered 32 assists in all competitions, is still Europe’s top playmaker.
And fortunately for him, when it counted most, his squad did not turn the ball over against Inter Milan.
2. Lionel Messi
Messi completed the beautiful tale of football by leading his nation and shining in the World Cup at the age of 35 to finally take home the trophy that has eluded him throughout his remarkable career.
After the victory in Qatar, it appeared like he would easily win his record-tying eighth championship, but Haaland’s heroics for the Manchester City super team put an end to that.
The Argentine has also scored 38 goals and contributed 25 assists outside of the World Cup.
1. Erling Haaland
The World Cup naturally bears more weight as compared to the Champions League. However, following the competition in Qatar, the Manchester City striker has recently cut the gap over Lionel Messi, a multiple victor.
The historic triple was completed by City, with the highlight occurring in Turkey on June 10. The 22-year-old may not have spoken during the Champions League final, but his 53 goals across all competitions assisted City in doing so.
Also, Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the award in 2008, was the last member of the Premier League to accomplish so. That year, Ronaldo and Manchester United won the Champions League, a feat Haaland has since accomplished with Manchester City.
Could a 22-year-old player win his first Ballon d’Or? We think so.
Other likely 2023 Ballon d’Or candidates
Victor Osimhen’s and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s roles in Napoli’s title-winning season will surely hand them a place in the final top 10 places.
Lautaro Martinez did not play a big role in Argentina’s World Cup triumph but delivered in Inter’s run to the Istanbul final and winning a domestic double. His international teammate Julian Alvarez, having won the treble plus the World Cup, will also feature among the top-ranked players.
Robert Lewandowski suffered an unfamiliar early exit from the Champions League but still won another Golden Boot award, this time in a different league.
Reigning holder Karim Benzema failed to inspire another European success for Real Madrid, but his 31 goals before joining Al-Ittihad will put him in good standing in higher places.
The list of the nominees will be announced on September 6, with the winners being announced at a gala in Paris on October 30.