Ballon d’Or 2022 Power Rankings: Benzema, Salah or Mane – will the Champions League final decide the winner?

For all the controversy and criticism it generates, the Ballon d’Or remains the most important individual award in world football, and the race to claim the 2022 prize is well and truly on.

France Football announced in March that the rules for Ballon d’Or voting have changed, with the key one being that the award will be based on performances over a single season, rather than a calendar year.

That means performances at the 2022 World Cup, which is set to kick-off in November, will not be considered this year, and instead will be judged when voting for the 2023 Ballon d’Or gets under way.

The importance placed on trophies (aka ‘Jorginho’s Law’) has also been scaled back, meaning the prize should reflect the best footballers from each season, rather than those who lift the most silverware.

With all that in mind, and with defending champion Lionel Messi in the hunt for an eighth Golden Ball, who holds the most power in this year’s Ballon d’Or battle as it enters its final months?

(Previously updated May 2. Players dropped out: Diogo Jota, Joao Cancelo.)


Erling Haaland Ballon d'Or GFX

20. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

Last time: 20th

In 2021-22: 36 goals, nine assists.

Haaland likely has just one more match in a Dortmund shirt to come before he leaves Signal Iduna Park so expect him to try and go out with a bang this coming weekend.

Harry Kane Ballon d'Or GFX

19. Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Last time: 19th

In 2021-22: 34 goals, 10 assists.

Though he did not add to his own goal or assist tallies against Liverpool, Kane played his part in Tottenham’s crucial goal at Anfield on Saturday, as the England captain again showcased his creative capabilities.

Son Heung-min Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

18. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Last time: NEW ENTRY

In 2021-22: 25 goals, nine assists.

Son is back in the top 20 after forcing himself into the Premier League Golden Boot race in recent weeks, and if his goals fire Tottenham back into the Champions League, then he has a real shot at making the shortlist.

Riyad Mahrez Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

17. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

Last time: 14th

In 2021-22: 29 goals, 12 assists.

Mahrez looked set to be Man City’s hero at Santiago Bernabeu when he curled a shot past Thibaut Courtois with 17 minutes left on the clock, only for Real Madrid to launch their incredible comeback in the final moments.

Christopher Nkunku Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

16. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)

Last time: 13th

In 2021-22: 34 goals, 20 assists.

There will be no European final for Nkunku to catch the eye of Ballon d’Or voters in after Leipzig came up short in their Europa League semi-final against Rangers.

The France winger did, however, add four more goals to his season’s tally over the past seven days, and could still end the campaign with a DFB-Pokal winner’s medal.

Virgil van Dijk Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

15. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Last time: 15th

In 2021-22: Four goals, one assist, 31 clean sheets. Won Carabao Cup.

Van Dijk has now reached the Champions League final on three occasions in the past five years, which when put in the context of him missing almost a full year with a serious knee injury just speaks to the impact he has on this Liverpool team.

Thibaut Courtois Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

14. Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)

Last time: NEW ENTRY

In 2021-22: 20 clean sheets. Won La Liga & Supercopa de Espana.

While he may not garner the same attention as his team-mates at the other end of the pitch, Courtois has been key to Madrid reaching the Champions League final, as well as their dominance in La Liga.

In the European knockout stages alone he has saved a penalty from Lionel Messi in the last 16, pulled off a string of stunning stops in both legs against Chelsea, and got just enough toe on Jack Grealish’s shot to edge it around the post just before Los Blancos launched their incredible comeback against Man City.

Luis Diaz Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

13. Luis Diaz (Liverpool)

Last time: 18th

In 2021-22: 23 goals, nine assists. Won Carabao Cup.

Diaz’s January move to Liverpool was already a major success before this past week, but yet again the Colombia international took his performance level to greater heights still.

His Man-of-the-Match-winning display off the bench in Villarreal was truly game-changing, while it was he who forced the Reds’ equaliser against Tottenham.

Thiago Alcantara Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

12. Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool)

Last time: 12th

In 2021-22: Two goals, four assists. Won Carabao Cup.

Thiago had one of his worst halves of the season in the opening 45 minutes against Villarreal, but he – like his Liverpool team-mates – recovered after the break as he returned to pulling the strings in the Reds’ midfield.

Bernardo Silva Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

11. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Last time: 11th

In 2021-22: 13 goals, nine assists.

Man City’s outstanding performer against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, Bernardo’s display deserved a place in the Champions League final.

Instead, it seems likely that he will at least have another Premier League winner’s medal to console himself with.

Trent Alexander-Arnold Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

10. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Last time: 10th

In 2021-22: Two goals, 22 assists, 23 clean sheets. Won Carabao Cup.

Alexander-Arnold was back on the assist trail against Villarreal as his cross set up Luis Diaz for what proved to be the goal that broke the Yellow Submarine’s resistance in Spain.

Phil Foden Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

9. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Last time: 9th

In 2021-22: 14 goals, 15 assists.

Foden cut a forlorn figure in Madrid after playing the full 120 minutes of Man City’s agonising Champions League semi-final defeat, but he was in better spirits on Sunday as he came off the bench and both scored and helped set up late goals for Pep Guardiola’s side in their win over Newcastle.

Kevin De Bruyne Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

8. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Last time: 6th

In 2021-22: 16 goals, 17 assists.

De Bruyne was criticised for his performance in Madrid that saw him substituted with 20 minutes of normal time still to play, though he bounced back with a dominant midfield showing against Newcastle as City close in on another Premier League title.

Luka Modric Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

7. Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Last time: 7th

In 2021-22: Six goals, 11 assists. Won La Liga & Supercopa de Espana.

Modric was among the star names who were withdrawn during the closing stages of Madrid’s dramatic Champions League semi-final win, as Carlo Ancelotti trusted his young guns to turn the tie around.

That should not, though, dampen expectations around Modric heading into the final considering the level of his performances over the course of the campaign.

Vinicius Junior Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

6. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Last time: 8th

In 2021-22: 18 goals, 18 assists. Won La Liga & Supercopa de Espana.

Though it was his fellow Brazilian winger, Rodrygo, that took the headlines as Madrid beat Man City in the Champions League, Vinicius was again a thorn in the side of the Premier League champions’ defence.

His influence only grew as time wore on at Santiago Bernabeu, and his battle with Trent Alexander-Arnold promises to be crucial as to the outcome of the final in Paris.

Kylian Mbappe Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

5. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

Last time: 4th

In 2021-22: 44 goals, 29 assists. Won Ligue 1 & UEFA Nations League.

Mbappe continues to add to his outrageous goal involvement numbers as PSG’s season winds down in France – the question now is whether he will be leaving his homeland this summer.

Robert Lewandowski Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

4. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Last time: 3rd

In 2021-22: 55 goals, 11 assists. Won Bundesliga & DFL-Supercup.

After being on track for much of the campaign, a slow finish to the season for Lewandowski means he is set to miss out on breaking his own record for the most goals in a single Bundesliga season, with the focus around the Poland star now on whether he will sign a new contract at the Allianz Arena.

Sadio Mane Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

3. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Last time: 5th

In 2021-22: 27 goals, five assists. Won Africa Cup of Nations & Carabao Cup.

The campaign backing Mane to contend for the Ballon d’Or in 2022 is gathering momentum, with the Senegal star netting the winning goal on the night against Villarreal as Liverpool progressed to the Champions League final.

France Football have been keen to remove the emphasis on trophies won to their voters, but if Mane backs up his Africa Cup of Nations success with three or four club trophies, can he be denied the ultimate individual honour?

Mohamed Salah Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Last time: 2nd

In 2021-22: 32 goals, 19 assists. Won Carabao Cup.

The newly crowned FWA Footballer of the Year is not producing the same match-winning displays that he was in the first half of the season, but as the Ballon d’Or moves to being a season-long prize, it must be hoped that those displays by the Egyptian are remembered, particularly if other Liverpool players step up in their upcoming cup finals.

Karim Benzema Ballon d'Or Rankings GFX

1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Last time: 1st

In 2021-22: 46 goals, 14 assists. Won La Liga, UEFA Nations League & Supercopa de Espana.

Even if the headlines went to some of his team-mates, it was still Benzema that scored the winning goal for Real Madrid in their Champions League semi-final victory over Man City.

The France striker also provided an assist for Rodrygo on the night, and it now seems nailed on that he will claim football’s ultimate individual honour, even if Los Blancos do come up short in Paris.

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