Lionel Messi made history in late 2021, as he won the illustrious Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career. The player that many believe to be one of the greatest of all-time has now moved clear of Cristiano Ronaldo as the player that has won the accolade the most number of times.
However, the attention will now turn towards the players that will be among the favorites on the soccer lines to win the illustrious honor in 2022. But, which players could be in contention to win the famous prize?
Many believed that Mohamed Salah should have finished much higher than he did in this year’s top ten. He finished below Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema after the votes had been counted, despite outscoring both for Liverpool in the calendar year. However, it would be hard to see the award being handed out next year without Salah in contention, as the Liverpool star has started the season in red-hot form.
The Egyptian has already scored 13 goals and recorded nine assists in 15 Premier League fixtures for the Reds this season, and scored seven goals in six Champions League group stage fixtures. Salah was instrumental as the Reds won all six group games in this season’s competition, becoming the first English team to achieve that feat in the process. The 29-year-old will represent Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations in January, and success in that, coupled with a triumph with Liverpool, could make him the player to beat for the Ballon d’Or next year.
Next year will be a huge one for Kylian Mbappe. He will be an important player for PSG, as they look to win the Champions League for the first time in their history, while Mbappe will also be tasked with ensuring that the Parisians win back the Ligue 1 title. The World Cup winner was in excellent form in the group stages of the Champions League, as he scored four goals in the six games that he has played.
League form has also been strong from the Frenchman so far this year, as he has scored seven goals and recorded eight assists in 16 Ligue 1 appearances. Mbappe will face a huge decision in the second half of the season too, as he must decide whether he will allow his contract to run down before joining Real Madrid in the summer. Towards the end of 2022, his focus will be on the World Cup in Qatar, as France look to successfully defend the honor that they won in Russia in 2018. Success on all fronts could make it hard to see past the 22-year-old.
Robert Lewandowski has been robbed of Ballon d’Or success in each of the past two years. He was the clear contender in 2020 before the ceremony was canceled due to COVID, and many believed that he should have won the award instead of Messi in 2021 after impressing over the previous 12 months for a dominant Bayern Munich. Instead of crying about missing out on the famous award, the Pole has continued to astound with his goalscoring feats this season.
Lewandowski has already scored 16 goals in 14 games in the Bundesliga this term, and has netted nine in six Champions League games, making him the second-highest scorer in the competition so far. The Polish international will be crucial to Bayern’s chances of winning the Champions League this season, and should he maintain the standards that he has set already this term, then it could be another famous treble-winning season for the Bavarian giants, and the Ballon d’Or could finally be his.