Manchester City have eight current or former players nominated for the 2023 Ballon d’Or, but could still come away without the main award.
Kevin De Bruyne finished third overall for the coveted Men’s Player of the Year title at the Ballon d’Or honors last season, and Manchester City was voted Club of the Year.
No City player had ever been in the top three of the Ballon d’Or rankings, and the club will be sure that this year, after winning the treble in historically impressive way, it will at least match that accomplishment. City has seven nominees, including former captain Ilkay Gundogan, and the most of them have shown enough promise to be taken seriously as contenders.
With 10 nominations total across the men’s and women’s shortlists (including two players who have left the club), City appears to be retaining their Club of the Year title. Barcelona is the closest competitor with eight nominations. The focus at the Etihad will be on the largest award, even though that represents an improvement over the six nominees from the previous year and shows City’s growth in both the men’s and women’s games.
Despite City’s supremacy in England and Europe last season, they might have to wait to win the Ballon d’Or. Even if his domestic form at PSG wasn’t great and he has only lately begun to impress after going to Inter Miami, Lionel Messi is the overwhelming favorite after leading Argentina to the World Cup in December.
Erling Haaland, the second-choice, has actually had a better year in terms of form, according to City, scoring six goals this year compared to 52 last season. In addition to breaking the Premier League single-season scoring record, he also won the Champions League’s Golden Boot award. All at 22.
Even a player of Messi’s caliber didn’t have a better season in terms of playing football and scoring goals, despite the fact that he won the World Cup. When Messi and Ronaldo were competing head-to-head at the top of their games, Haaland might be the best runner-up the award has ever seen.
De Bruyne, City’s star and a creator of valiant performances on the greatest stages, is another option. The games against Arsenal away and subsequently at home, as well as Real Madrid away, stand out as those in which De Bruyne accepted responsibility and led his team through trying situations, serving as a constant reminder to the world that despite all of Haaland’s accomplishments and goals, he is still City’s best player. He is talented enough to take home at least one Ballon d’Or in his career, but he might lose out since other players have consistently stronger seasons than him.
Similar to how Bernardo Silva propelled City into the Champions League final with his electrifying display against Real Madrid in the semi-final second leg, Bernardo Silva was unstoppable on the right as City closed closer on a treble. Last season, he played at least six different positions while maintaining an absurdly high level of performance. Few players were more reliable last year, and even fewer can equal his collection of championship titles.
However, Rodri and Julian Alvarez, who both lack the chance to win the Ballon d’Or but possess the qualifications to do so, are two players who can surpass Bernardo’s total. Rodri scored the game-winning goal in Istanbul, won Player of the Tournament honors in the Champions League, then assisted Spain in capturing a second international title by scoring the game-winning goal in the Nations League finals, where he also won Player of the Tournament honors. Rodri is unquestionably one of the top players in the world, contributing to City and Spain on both national and international platforms.
Alvarez may not have been as crucial for City and Argentina in 2022, but he still started the World Cup final, scored in the semifinal, and provided Messi with crucial support in Qatar. He supported Haaland at City as well, seizing opportunities as they presented themselves. Alvarez is unquestionably in the running because no player has ever won the triple crown in Europe and the World Cup in the same calendar year.
Rodri and Alvarez should be mentioned because of the roles they performed for club and country if Jorginho can finish third in 2021 after winning the Euros and Champions League in the same season. However, the likelihood of that occurring is summarised perfectly by the fact that Marcus Rashford, who hasn’t even been nominated, has superior odds to win the prize with bookies.
In any other season, those five players would offer City a strong opportunity to win the Ballon d’Or. That’s before taking into account Ruben Dias’ unblemished form, Gundogan’s leadership and cup final exploits, and Josko Gvardiol’s arresting form. Despite having a fantastic season, John Stones was not even included on the 30-man shortlist. If not this year, City’s turn will undoubtedly come shortly.
Even City’s triple champions may not be able to stop Messi from winning a record-breaking eighth Ballon d’Or award when the Argentine is there, particularly if he recently won the World Cup.