Ballon d’Or 2022 Odds: Karim Benzema clear favourite for award ahead of Mohamed Salah
We may be approaching May but the race for the 2022 Ballon d’Or is already heating up.
With the new rule changes, the Ballon d’Or will be awarded for performances across a single season rather than a calendar year, meaning there are only a few months left for players to stake their claim.
Lionel Messi is the reigning Ballon d’Or champion, taking the 2021 crown ahead of Robert Lewandowski who instead had to settle for the inaugural Striker of the Year award. But there is almost certainly going to be a different winner this year with Messi struggling at Paris Saint-Germain, and it looks as though we’re going to get a new name on the list of winners as Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric aren’t fancied either.
Lewandowski was the early favourite and did win FIFA’s The Best Men’s Player for 2021 but Bayern Munich’s exit from the Champions League has seen his odds drop massively, with a new name at the top. And it’s not Mohamed Salah.
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Let’s take a look at some of the frontrunners for the award this year.
Karim Benzema is finally getting the praise he has deserved for so many years and the Frenchman is hitting pretty impressive numbers for Real Madrid this season. In 41 games across all competitions, Benzema has scored 41 goals but also provided a further 13 assists as Real Madrid are one point away from the La Liga title and have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Benzema in particular was key in helping Real Madrid reach the semi-finals, netting four goals against Chelsea in the quarter-finals – including a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge. He followed that up with another brace against Manchester City, including a cheeky Panenka penalty, which led to former Real teammate Mesut Ozil making his feelings known about this year’s award.
“What a fantastic game. Give my boy Benzi the Ballon D’Or,” he wrote on his official Twitter page. Benzema was also part of the France side that won the UEFA Nations League at the start of the season, scoring in both the semi-final and final.
Perhaps the only man that can stop Benzema is Mohamed Salah, who is also having another fantastic season. The Egyptian is running away with the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot, scoring 22 goals in 31 appearances this season, five more than any other player. He also leads the Playmaker Award standings with 13 assists, one ahead of teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold. Salah is the only player to hit 10+ goals and 10+ assists in the Premier League this season, despite missing two matches while he was at the Africa Cup of Nations. At Afcon, Salah scored twice though it was not enough to prevent Egypt from falling to a final defeat to Senegal – who also knocked them out of World Cup qualifying.
Kevin De Bruyne
A recent addition to fly up the list, Kevin De Bruyne is quite clearly one of the bester players in the world but he was going under the radar for a lot of the campaign mostly due to injury. But he has now recorded 12 assists to go with his 15 goals scored, and his importance for Man City stretches even further than that as they push for a Premier League and Champions League double.
Kylian Mbappe has been PSG’s standout player this season, the star of an underwhelming team that will still win the Ligue 1 title this season. But that doesn’t mean Mbappe is only shining because his teammates are at a lower level. Mbappe has scored 33 goals in 42 games across all competitions, while also recording 18 assists.
The man many believed should have won the Ballon d’Or last year and the year before (when the awards were postponed). But he appears to have been let down by his Bayern teammates – even though team performances aren’t being taken into account. Lewandowski has kept his excellent form going this season and has scored 48 goals in 43 games for Bayern Munich at the time of writing, including 33 in 31 matches in the Bundesliga to help the Bavarian giants with a 10th league title on the bounce.