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The favourites to win the Ballon d’Or 2024


Lionel Messi’s record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or success came as a surprise to absolutely nobody in the footballing world.

The legendary Argentine had led his country to the 2022 World Cup after all, where he arguably cemented his place as the greatest footballer to have ever played the game.

Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe were his nearest challengers in 2023, both enjoying exceptional years of their own. Haaland scored 54 goals in all competitions during the eligibility period, while Mbappe led France to back-to-back appearances in the World Cup final, sensationally scoring a hat-trick against Argentina (albeit in an eventual losing effort) to scoop the Golden Boot.

All three are expected to be in contention once more in 2024, despite Messi’s move to Inter Miami at club level, but there’s plenty of other players who may feel they are in with a chance of being crowned the best player in the world.

Here’s 90min’s favourites for the award.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi won the 2023 Ballon d’Or – his eighth / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

With Messi considered the best player ever by many, it’s inevitable that he’ll pick up votes in 2024 because of his reputation alone.

His performances are usually pretty damn good too though and, despite playing in MLS, Messi’s lack of international retirement after winning the World Cup means that he will have another chance of international glory at the Copa America in the summer.

If he plays to anywhere near the level he did at the World Cup, expect Argentina to win the tournament and for Messi to be, once again, one of the Ballon d’Or favourites.

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski keeps scoring important goals / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Barcelona coasted to La Liga success in Xavi’s first full season in charge, and the Spaniard had the goals of Robert Lewandowski to thank for that success.

Lewandowski is heading into the twilight of his career but he still remains one of Europe’s most prolific goalscorers. If the Catalan giants enjoy further success in 2023/24, it will likely be because of the Pole’s exploits – his reputation also ensuring he’ll garner votes for the Ballon d’Or.

Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka is one of England’s finest prospects / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Arsenal’s rise under Mikel Arteta has been impressive to say the least, with the club now firmly established as one of the Premier League’s top sides.

One of the star turns in north London has been Bukayo Saka, who has quickly matured into one of the finest wingers in the world. Also a key player for England, he could prove to be the difference as Arsenal look to end their 20-year Premier League title drought.

Bernardo Silva

Bernardo Silva keeps everything ticking for the champions / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Manchester City’s 2023 calendar year has been nothing short of ridiculous – their Club World Cup success over Fluminense an English record fifth trophy.

Bernardo Silva has been front and centre to everything that’s good about City, providing the stable base of consistent performances that allows the likes of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Jeremy Doku to sprinkle their magic every now and again.

A strong showing with Portugal at Euro 2024 could really put Silva in the reckoning.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is shining in Saudi Arabia / Khalid Alhaj/MB Media/GettyImages

He may been essentially ostracised from European football following his spat with Manchester United, but since moving to the Saudi Pro LeagueCristiano Ronaldo has just continued to do what he does best: score goals.

The top goalscorer in footballing history is tearing it up for Al Nassr and, if he continues his form into Euro 2024 with Portugal, could end his international career with yet another medal draped around his neck.

Lautaro Martinez

Lautaro Martinez is doing great things in Italy / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Lautaro Martinez has been on the cusp of greatness for what feels like an eternity, but the pieces may finally be falling into place for the Argentine at Inter.

More clinical in front of goal than he’s ever been, Martinez could turn out to be the star turn in a deep Champions League run, while he has the ability to rival Messi and Alvarez as the main man for Argentina at the Copa America.

Don’t discount him.

Vinicius Junior

There are few better than Vinicius Junior / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

There are times when you’re watching Vinicius Junior race down the left flank, drift past three players effortlessly, before squaring expertly to a teammate, and think “yep, this guy is the best footballer in world.”

Those times have been getting ever-more frequent over the last few seasons, however with Bellingham now taking most of the limelight at Real Madrid once can expect Vini’s brilliance to go slightly under the radar moving forward.

Julian Alvarez

Julian Alvarez is shining for Manchester City / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Signed as a striker, but too good to be simply playing second fiddle to Erling Haaland, Pep Guardiola opted to make Julian Alvarez an attacking midfielder at the start of the 2023/24 season. Boy oh boy did it pay dividends.

Alvarez is now not only one of world football’s most rounded forwards, he’s also now one of the most wanted. And when Barcelona or Real Madrid come sniffing for you when you’re on the up, it’s usually because you’ve got Ballon d’Or potential.

Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann is back at his absolute best / Denis Doyle/GettyImages

If you’re looking for a model of consistency, look no further than the completely rejuvenated Antoine Griezmann.

Working under Diego Simeone seems to get the absolute best out of the Frenchman, who showed glimpses of his returning brilliance during France’s run to the 2022 World Cup final.

He’s scoring goals, is putting in player of the match performances, and is basically running the show for Atleti.

Mohamed Salah

Salah celebrates yet another Liverpool goal / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

In what was considered a ‘down year’, Mohamed Salah managed to bag 28 goals and 14 assists in all competitions during the 2022/23 campaign. That is how good Mohamed Salah is at football.

The 2023/24 campaign has seen normal service resumed for Salah at Liverpool, and leading the club to another Premier League title, as well as a potential AFCON win with Egypt, could be enough to sway voters into handing him a first Ballon d’Or win.

Rodri

Rodri after Manchester City’s fifth trophy win of 2023 / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

If Rodri continues to plays the way he did throughout the 2022/23 season, he’s in with a shout.

In a career-best campaign, the defensive midfielder was the MVP for the best football team in the world. The only problem is that, in order to be that MVP, Rodri had to play over 60 games of football in a single season – something he’s not too keen on doing again anytime soon.

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland is a goal machine / Francois Nel/GettyImages

One word: goals.

Erling Haaland scores goals. A ludicrous amount of goals. A record-breaking amount of goals.

Those goals helped Manchester City to the treble, Haaland to second in the Ballon d’Or rankings and the Norwegian to the Gerd Muller Award too. The only thing that may hurt his chances of winning the award is Norway simply not being good enough to compete at Euro 2024.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane is destroying the Bundesliga / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

Did you see the goal Kane scored against Darmstadt in the Bundesliga? Says it all, really.

Harry Kane is one of, if not the only, footballer in the world currently capable of scoring goals like that, and having moved to Bayern Munich, he’s finally going to win some trophies (barring an unmitigated disaster in Bavaria).

Winning the Champions League with Bayern and captaining England to Euro 2024 glory would go a long way to persuading voters that Kane’s the man.

Kylian Mbappe

Is there anything Kylian Mbappe can’t do? / Ralf Ibing – firo sportphoto/GettyImages

Surely it’s only a matter of time before the best footballer of his generation wins the Ballon d’Or, right?

Mbappe has finished in the top ten in every year since 2017, enjoying a career-best third place finish in 2023, and is clearly a favourite of voters thanks to his performances in big games – he scored a hat-trick in the World Cup final and has well over 200 career goals to his name for PSG.

As the star player for the favourites to win Euro 2024, Mbappe is likely to put in some eye-catching performances which will surely garner plenty of votes.

Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham is the hot favourite currently / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/GettyImages

Jude Bellingham’s start to life at Real Madrid has been out of this world, ascending the Englishman from ‘wonderkid’ to ‘superstar’ status in the blink of an eye.

A game-winning brace in his first ever Clasico against Barcelona are two of over a dozen games Bellingham scored in just three months, quickly ascending him to the top of the mountain in the Spanish capital.

All eyes are on Bellingham, yet he doesn’t appear to be fazed by anything. Quite the contrary, he appears to thrive in the pressure-cooker environment of the Santiago Bernabeu, and he could hold the key to finally ending England’s long wait for trophy success at international level.

If Bellingham keeps going at the rate he is, he could be a shoo-in for the Ballon d’Or.

READ THE 2023 BALLON D’OR RANKINGS IN FULL & OTHER AWARD WINS





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