The French football association on Friday announced the nominees for the men’s Balon ‘dOr. This is one of the most prestigious awards in European football. It crowns the winner as the best player of the year.
When one hears the phrase, best football players, the first few names that come to mind are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar jr. But you will be surprised to know that two of these three footballers have failed to make it to the list of top 30 nominees.
Yes, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Neymar are not even on the list of 30 players. This is because of the lacklustre season they endured with PSG last year.
Bad season for Messi and Neymar individually
Lionel Messi is the current holder of the prestigious award. And has won it a record 7 times with football Club Barcelona. However, on his first outing with PSG, he failed to recreate his past heroics.
He ended the year with a total of 11 goals from all competitions. Even his team faltered in all cup competitions like UCL and the domestic cup. Although they won the French League 1, and Argentina won the Finalsima, Messi still couldn’t find a place in the top 30s.
This is the first time since 2005 that Messi is not present in the top-30 list for Ballon d’Or.
Similarly, Neymar, Messi’s comrade at PSG, also didn’t have a great season. He, too, managed to score only 13 goals and had only one trophy to show for it.
Benzema most likely candidate for Ballon d’Or
Benzema is supposed to be the runaway winner of this year’s award. He ticks all the right columns in the winner’s list with a fantastic season with Real Madrid. The striker scored a total of 42 goals in all competitions.
Furthermore, he won the Spanish league, the Champions League, and recently the UEFA Super Cup. Therefore making him the most likely player on the list to win the trophy.
Nominees for Ballon d’Or
- Thibaut Courtois (BEL, Real Madrid),
- Rafael Leao (POR, AC Milan)
- Mohamed Salah (EGY, Liverpool)
- Joshua Kimmich (GER, Bayern Munich)
- Christopher Nkunku (FRA, RB Leipzig)
- Trent Alexander-Arnold (ANG, Liverpool)
- Robert Lewandowski (POL, Bayern Munich then FC Barcelona)
- Bernardo Silva (POR, Manchester City)
- Vinicius Junior (BRE, Real Madrid)
- Luis Diaz (COL, FC Porto then Liverpool)
- Karim Benzema (FRA, Real Madrid)
- Fabinho (BRE, Liverpool)
- Riyad Mahrez (ALG, Manchester City)
- Heung-min Son (CDS, Tottenham)
- Sadio Mané (SEN, Liverpool then Bayern Munich),
- Darwin Nunez (URU, Benfica then Liverpool)
- Mike Maignan (FRA, AC Milan)
- Kevin De Bruyne (BEL, Manchester City)
- Sébastien Haller (CIV, Ajax then Borussia Dortmund)
- Luka Modric (CRO, Real Madrid)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (POR, Manchester United)
- Antonio Rüdiger (GER, Chelsea then Real Madrid)
- Joao Cancelo (POR, Manchester City)
- Erling Haaland (NOR, Borussia Dortmund then Manchester City)
- Kylian Mbappé (FRA, PSG)
- Virgil Van Dijk (HOL, Liverpool)
- Dusan Vlahovic (SER, Fiorentina then Juventus).
- Casemiro (BRE, Real Madrid)
- Phil Foden (ENG, Manchester City)
- Harry Kane (ENG, Tottenham)