Who will hold up the golden award before walking a red carpet with those few kilos under their arm? This Monday, at the Châtelet theater in Paris, France Football magazine will award the 67th Ballon d'Or to a man who will be voted best footballer in the world for the 2022-23 season. Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé appear as the favorites. But for various reasons.
According to the latest rumors, Lionel Messi will receive his 8th Ballon d'Or this Monday. Over the last few weeks, he has naturally established himself as the favorite. His main argument is obvious: he was voted best player of the 2022 World Cup, which he finally won with Argentina last December. For many, he definitively acquired the status of the best footballer of all time with this coronation in Qatar. He shone in the most important competition of the season. He also got off to a good start in the club season with Paris Saint-Germain.
SEE ALSO – Messi, Mbappé, Neymar: PSG’s best goals last season
But for Messi, there was a post-World Cup. His excellent statistics in Ligue 1 (16 goals, 16 assists) mask the reality on the ground, where the Argentinian has often struggled like a PSG champion of France in pain. In the Champions League, he was transparent and could not avoid elimination by Bayern Munich in the round of 16 (0-1, 2-0). It's a stain. Enough to tarnish his overall campaign in 2022-23? It is likely that the voters (100 journalists from the top 100 nations in the Fifa rankings) remember the World Cup more than his club adventures, he who migrated to the United States by signing for Inter Miami last summer.
“If there is one to stand out, obviously it’s Kylian,” judged Didier Deschamps on Téléfoot last weekend. The coach of the France team knows what he is talking about: he was in the front row for his colt's hat-trick against Argentina in the World Cup final (3-3, 5-3 on penalties) . The day after the defeat of the Blues, many observers did not fail to highlight the legendary performance of Mbappé, author of a successful World Cup but in the shadow of Messi.
To keep his chances for the Ballon d'Or, Mbappé had to guide PSG to a crazy end to the season by eclipsing his Argentine teammate. He did not do it. Here too, with 41 goals in 43 matches, the 2018 world champion performed well, it is obvious. But he did not stand out in the Champions League, struggling against disappointing collective results. The Parisian striker ticks many boxes without having enough to clearly get ahead of Messi. A bad story for him, always in the top 10 of the Ballon d'Or since 2017 without ever doing better than 4th place in 2018.
A bulldozer. It only took one season for Erling Haaland to break the record for goals scored in a Premier League season. Over the last 30 years, no one has done better than his 36 goals with Manchester City, for his first season with the English club. The Norwegian competed in the most prestigious European championship, which he won after being voted the best player. He also walked in the Champions League (12 goals in 11 matches) which City finally won, even if he was not decisive in the semi-final or the final.
At club level, Haaland has flirted with perfection and, even though he is only 23, it will be difficult for him to do better. So why wouldn’t he get the Ballon d’Or? Because he didn't even play in the World Cup, for which Norway didn't qualify. Cruel, especially since in the selection, he has scored 7 goals in 7 matches since September 2022, proof that his performance does not differ that much. The former Dortmund man therefore has an inverted pedigree compared to Messi and Mbappé, disappointing at club level but breathtaking at the World Cup. Monday evening, we will know what won in the eyes of voters.