The Ballon d’Or is the most prestigious individual prize in football. Winning the award is every footballer’s dream, but only the very best in the business get to wrap their hands around the trophy. It is presented to the best performing footballer in the world by French news magazine France Football every year.
The race for the 2022 Ballon d’Or is heating up. We are now officially in the second half of the year and there is not a lot of time left before the new winner is determined. There are a handful of contenders who are all in with a chance of winning the award this year.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top five favorites to win this year’s Ballon d’Or as of July 2022.
#5 Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)
Trophies matter a lot in the Ballon d’Or race. Despite playing for Paris Saint-Germain, one of the most star-studded teams in Europe, Kylian Mbappe didn’t get to take home a great amount of silverware.
PSG won the Ligue 1 title but their Round of 16 exit from the Champions League will have dented his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or. Mbappe gave a very good account of himself though, scoring in both legs of their Round of 16 match against Real Madrid.
The 23-year-old also put up incredible numbers in the 2021-22 season. He scored 39 goals and provided 26 assists in 46 appearances across all competitions for PSG.
#4 Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich)
Robert Lewandowski has been the most prolific striker in Europe for a few seasons now. The 33-year-old was one of the top contenders for the Ballon d’Or award last year. However, the same shortage of silverware that stopped him from winning the Ballon d’Or last year is once again likely to bridle his chances of winning it this time.
Lewandowski scored 50 goals and provided seven assists in 46 appearances across all competitions for Bayern Munich in the 2021-22 season. He also played a crucial role in helping Poland secure World Cup qualification. Lewandowski also picked up the European Golden Shoe for a second successive season this past term.
However, with just the Bundesliga title in his trophy cabinet, Lewandowski might stop short of finishing on the Ballon d’Or podium this year.
#3 Sadio Mane (Senegal/Bayern Munich)
Sadio Mane has had a wonderful 2022 so far. He guided Senegal to a triumphant run at the 2021 AFCON and was named the ‘Player of the Tournament’. He also boosted his chances in the Ballon d’Or race by helping Senegal secure a berth at the 2022 FIFA World Cup at the cost of Egypt.
Mane also transitioned into a centre-forward during the second half of the season at Liverpool and proved to be very effective in his new role. He was an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s side that won the FA Cup and the League Cup as well.
Mane scored 23 goals and provided five assists in 51 appearances across all competitions for Liverpool last term. He has now joined Bayern Munich on a deal worth €41 million.
#2 Vinicius Jr. (Brazil/Real Madrid)
Easily the surpise package of the 2021-22 season, Vinicius Jr. couldn’t have fulfilled his promise at a better time for Real Madrid. The club was starting to get overtly dependent on Karim Benzema and desperately needed someone to share the load.
The tricky Brazilian winger improved his finishing and link-up play massively and came up clutch for Los Blancos on multiple occasions. Vinicius also scored the winner for Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool.
The 21-year-old was a standout performer for Real Madrid in their triumphant La Liga campaign as well. He scored 22 goals and provided 20 assists in 52 appearances across all competitions for Real Madrid this past term.
#1 Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema has to have done enough in the 2021-22 season to finally take home his first Ballon d’Or. The French striker was nearly unstoppable and was in blistering form throughout last term.
He scored 44 goals and provided 15 assists in 46 appearances across all competitions for Real Madrid in the 2021-22 season. The 34-year-old scored hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea in the Round of 16 and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Benzema followed that up with a brace and also the winner against Manchester City in the semi-finals. He was Real Madrid’s standout performer in both their La Liga and Champions League triumphs and is the odds-on favorite to win the Ballon d’Or as things stand.