Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema (left) and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane (right)
The way things are going, Karim Benzema is most football fans’ early favorite to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or. The Real Madrid striker has been in a league of his own this term and without his contributions, Carlo Ancelotti’s side would be having a very different campaign.
Karim Benzema has never won the Ballon d’Or
Karim Benzema finished fourth in the 2021 Ballon d’Or race. He has never won football’s most prestigious individual prize. But this could very well be Benzema’s year. The French striker has been in great form and has surprised us time and again with his performances.
Benzema has already produced multiple rescue acts for Real Madrid this season and has played some of the best football of his life this term.
However, nothing is for certain as there are multiple individuals other than Benzema who are doing exceptionally well.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five players who could beat Karim Benzema to the 2022 Ballon d’Or.
#5 Sadio Mane (Senegal/Liverpool)
Liverpool v Manchester United – Premier League
Sadio Mane is having a fantastic season. The Liverpool forward had a bit of an underwhelming outing in the 2020-21 campaign and it looked like he had moved past his prime. However, Mane has taken it upon himself to prove his detractors wrong this term.
He won the AFCON with the Senegalese national team earlier this year. Mane has also won the League Cup with Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s side have had yet another sensational campaign and have made it to the final of the FA Cup as well as the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
They are also very much embroiled in the Premier League title race at the moment. Mane has scored 19 goals and provided three assists in 43 appearances across all competitions for the Merseysiders.
If he can pick up all the available trophies, then Mane will become one of the favorites in the race for the Ballon d’Or.
#4 Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City)
Manchester City v Real Madrid Semi Final Leg One – UEFA Champions League
Kevin De Bruyne has arguably been Manchester City‘s best player this season. To stand out among all the world-class talents that Pep Guardiola has at his disposal is an achievement in itself. De Bruyne is not only one of the most creative midfielders on the planet, but he also doubles up as a goalscoring outlet.
Manchester City are currently at the top of the Premier League table with five games remaining in the season. De Bruyne scored a goal and provided an assist as City beat Real Madrid 4-3 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Tuesday night (26 April).
If De Bruyne can inspire his side to glory in the Premier League and the Champions League, then he will become a serious contender for this year’s Ballon d’Or. In 40 appearances across all competitions for Manchester City, De Bruyne has scored 15 goals and provided 12 assists.
#3 Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich)
FC Bayern München v Borussia Dortmund – Bundesliga
Robert Lewandowski was unfortunate to miss out on the 2020 Ballon d’Or as the award was canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He did exceptionally well last year as well but ended up finishing second behind Lionel Messi.
Bayern Munich crashing out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals against Villarreal will certainly have an impact on Lewandowski’s Ballon d’Or chances. But they’ve cruised to yet another Bundesliga title and the Poland international’s numbers are exceptional.
The 33-year-old has scored a whopping 48 goals and provided six assists in 43 appearances across all competitions for the Bavarians so far this season.
#2 Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)
Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain: Round Of Sixteen Leg Two – UEFA Champions League
Kylian Mbappe has been enjoying yet another spectacular campaign at an individual level. However, we’re starting to get the feeling that winning the Ligue 1 title alone is starting to become a bit too stale for a player of Kylian Mbappe’s caliber.
He has been Paris Saint-Germain’s standout performer this season by far. In 42 appearances across all competitions for PSG so far this term, Mbappe has scored 33 goals and provided 22 assists.
The 23-year-old is tipped to leave the French giants in the summer. He will also be one of the players to look out for at the 2022 FIFA World Cup as well. If Mbappe can continue to tap into this rich vein of form, he’ll position himself in front of the line as far as this year’s Ballon d’Or is concerned.
#1 Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool)
Liverpool v Chelsea – Premier League
Mohamed Salah has been in sublime form for Liverpool this season. The Egyptian international has been phenomenal for Jurgen Klopp’s side down the right wing. His blistering pace, close control and decision-making inside the final third have helped make Liverpool one of the most intimidating attacking units in Europe.
Salah has been prolific in front of goal and has turned up whenever his team has needed him most. In 43 appearances across all competitions for Liverpool so far this season, Salah has scored 30 goals and provided 13 assists.
If Liverpool go onto win more silverware, Salah could easily become the frontrunner in the race for this year’s Ballon d’Or. Even without the trophies, Salah is expected to give Benzema a run for his money as far as the 2022 Ballon d’Or is concerned.