The criteria for obtaining the Ballon d’Or have changed since the previous ceremony. The most prestigious individual soccer award will be awarded based on the season’s results rather than the calendar year. As a result, the discussion of the candidate list is already relevant. Of course, Karim Benzema is the clear favorite, but several other talented players are to consider.
Name: Karim Mostafa Benzema
National Team: France
Current Team: Real Madrid
Shirt Number: 10
Date of birth: Dec 19, 1987
Positions: Centre Forward
Market value: €30.00m
Nkunku enjoyed his greatest season for Leipzig. The Frenchman scored 20 goals and 13 assists in 33 Bundesliga matches and seven goals and one assist in the Champions League. The incredible rise of the midfielder was made possible as a result of the tireless effort of the coaches. Nkunku developed into a player capable of playing in various roles in the midfield and attack, thanks to Julian Nagelsmann’s supervision. Jesse Marsch has increased his playmaking, producing abilities and athleticism.
With Domenico Tedesco’s arrival, the Frenchman effectively established himself in the center forward role: Nkunku contributed significantly in the end, started to operate more rapidly in the penalty area, and eventually began to use his dribbling in the closing stages. It should come as no surprise that there is already a significant backlog of demand from elite teams for the midfielder. Inter, Manchester United, Arsenal, and AC Milan are all reportedly in the race to sign Nkunka, according to Fichajes.
Kepa Arrizabalaga’s poor play in goal has damaged Chelsea for several seasons. They had great expectations for the Spanish goalkeeper since he was purchased for a significant sum – the record amount of 80 million euros ever given for a goalkeeper. Kepa, however, was unable to escape the mental abyss he had fallen into due to the enormous pressure.
After signing Mendy from Rennes, the Blues have resolved their goalkeeping issues for a long time. In the Senegalese’s first season, Chelsea won the Champions League and finished in the top four in the EPL. Mendy continues to set a high standard this season by maximizing his potential and playing comfortably at the line, having 71 percent of successful safeties. Mendy won the Africa Cup with Senegal and the Club World Cup with Chelsea. Not the most prestigious trophies, but they will undoubtedly earn the goalie points in the race for the Ballon d’Or.
Tottenham has been in a severe crisis in recent years. After the 2018-19 Champions League final, the English could not maintain their position in the league. The game’s poor quality, intrigues around the departure of the leaders, and miscommunications between management and coaches all led to serious problems.
After Mauricio Pochettino, who did a great job of fine-tuning the system with a small transfer budget, José Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo was in charge of Spurs. However, since they both like to play defensively, they did not engage in offensive play. As a result, the squad had to be carried by Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Both forwards scored the most on the team in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
However, by the time Spurs were coached by Antonio Conte, Kane was in a slump since he had been unable to adjust to his move to City and was trying to regain form. That’s why Son stepped forward. With 21 goals and seven assists in 33 EPL games, the Korean has been involved in more than 40% of the Spurs’ league goals this season. If the forward keeps performing at such a remarkable level, the Korean will have a real chance of taking home the Ballon d’Or.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid is a unique team. Madrid began the season with no notable transfers except the free-agent addition of David Alaba and did not seek to bolster the squad’s depth.
So, the previous team leaders continued to drive the team forward. The 36-year-old Croatian continues to pass everyone in the middle. Sometimes, the midfielder moves back and plays from deep, but he often rises to upset the opposition with his beautiful different-range passes.
Modric’s reactive mobility in the center of the pitch compensates for the team’s structural weaknesses and enables him to focus his energy on the other team’s half of the field. Real Madrid’s rebuilding strategy needs a player who can control the ball and play between the lines while keeping his endurance throughout the game. Modrić is that kind of guy.
Real Madrid owes a lot to him for going through the whole season so quietly, finally winning La Liga and reaching the Champions League final through a challenging playoff round. In 2018, Modrić won the Ballon d’Or for his outstanding performance at the World Cup. This time, he is one of the serious candidates for the award.
Manchester City, led by Pep Guardiola, has been on the edge of dominating the international stage for years, and this season has been as near to perfection as imaginable. With every opponent, the Citizens attempt to play their own soccer brand: control the ball and field, use pressure to pin opponents in the opponent’s half, use well-defined attacks to place each other in offensive situations, etc.
Foden, who is Guardiola’s favorite player, is the main contributor to the development of this style. “This guy is growing. He takes steps forward every time. His influence on our game right now is huge. He is aggressive without the ball and is becoming a serious player. There are some guys you can’t stop at 19 or 20 years old. Some don’t even become that at 29-30. Especially in recent games, Phil is becoming such an important player. He’s significantly influenced the game at the opponent’s gates.” the coach admired the midfielder.
In contrast to his great teammates, Foden’s performance is mediocre, and his actions are tough to quantify. The key talent of the Englishman is his ability to move effectively over the field, using his sense of space and timing to pull opponents on himself, create spaces for partners, and allow them to make attacks. It allows City to move the ball quickly and higher. Like the rest of the squad, Foden lacks practicality, but he deserves respect for his performance on the field.
The Ballon d’Or is a real drama for Robert Lewandowski. He should have received it the season before last when he scored 38 goals in 31 games in the German Bundesliga and helped Bayern win five trophies in a single season, but France Football canceled the award because of the pandemic.
The next season Lewandowski was even better, scoring 41 goals and giving 7 assists in the Bundesliga. This time the Pole was let down by his team: Bayern Munich was knocked out of the Champions League in the quarterfinals, and the Polish national team failed to qualify from their group at the European Championships. It is the primary reason Leo Messi, who won America’s Cup with Argentina, finished ahead of Robert Lewandowski in the Ballon d’Or voting.
However, this year’s evaluation standards will be different: first and foremost, individual achievements will be considered, and titles will be the second most crucial factor. Lewandowski’s stats are still impressive – 38 points in goal + passes in 34 Bundesliga games – and he has a good chance of winning the award.
Vinicius joined Real Madrid from Flamengo four years ago. The transfer amounted to 45 million euros. Many experts thought it was excessively high for a 17-year-old boy, and their worries were validated at first.
Coming to the penalty area, Junior was disoriented and did not understand how to dispose of the ball in a given position, so he frequently either lost it on the dribble or was forced to step back, and his sharpness decreased. Everything has changed this season.
Carlo Ancelotti changed Vinicius. He became calmer and more sure of himself when running behind defenders. He also learned how to give assists, find teammates in the penalty area, and, most importantly, when to pass the ball. The winger has 17 goals and 10 assists in the Spanish La Liga and 3 goals and 6 assists in the Champions League.
Kevin de Bruyne
Manchester City is a team that does not depend on specific players. Guardiola has built a system in which every player can replace everyone, so the Citizens are so good over a long tournament distance.
However, City has a player who can create a goal without any combination. We’re talking, of course, about Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian’s best qualities are long-range shots, assists of any length, rebounding and breakthroughs. He is a kind of joker: when the game is not going well, the midfielder is given the ball, and he builds the offensive on his own due to his excellent soccer intelligence.
De Bruyne displayed that type of play last season as well, but his impact on the squad has expanded significantly this year. He is City’s best in goals, key passes, shots per game, chances created and second-best in assists. Belgian left-back eight can also be used in other positions, such as winger or false nine. De Bruyne’s contribution is crucial in a system where City frequently plays without a striker.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah
The Liverpool combination of Salah, Firmino, and Mane was one of the greatest in soccer history. Jurgen Klopp technically and tactically pumped up the forwards by spending a lot of time with them individually.
Firmino slowed down with time, though he still did a lot of pressing and under-playing, and Mane and Salah took over. For the Egyptian and Senegalese, Liverpool was the first major club to gain worldwide fame.
This season, the wingers have succeeded in taking the spotlight from the established stars and focusing it on themselves. Salah is outstanding – 22 goals and 13 assists in 34 EPL games. But Mane isn’t far behind either, with 15 goals and two assists in 33 league games. In addition, Senegal has qualified for the final tournament of the 2022 World Cup after winning the African Cup.