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Ballon d’Or 2022 Power Rankings: Benzema usurps Lewandowski after Champions League heroics.



Ballon d'Or 2022 Power Rankings: Benzema usurps Lewandowski after Champions League heroics. 49




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 April 11. Players dropped out: Edouard Mendy, Dusan Vlahovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sebastien Haller.)


20. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)

Last time: 19th

In 2021-22: 31 goals, eight assists.

It is now five Bundesliga games without a goal for Haaland since his return from injury, with his season in danger of ending with something of a whimper.

He is unlikely to be in the Ballon d’Or running regardless, though, given those fitness issues and Dortmund’s underwhelming campaign.

19. Pedri (Barcelona)

Last time: NEW ENTRY

In 2021-22: Five goals, one assist.

He may only have played 20 games in all competitions so far this season, but if Pedri maintains his current form and helps guide Barcelona to a Europa League triumph, then recency bias could see him earn a place on the Ballon d’Or shortlist for the second year running.

Certainly, there are only a couple of other midfielders playing at the teenager’s level at present, with his recent goals against Sevilla and Levante of the highest quality.

18. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Last time: NEW ENTRY

In 2021-22: 22 goals, eight assists.

If Mohamed Salah’s struggles in front of goal continue, there is a real chance that Son could yet nip in and grab himself the Premier League Golden Boot.

After his hat-trick against Aston Villa, the South Korea international is now just three behind Salah, and is playing in one of the most dynamic attacking units anywhere in Europe.

17. Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Last time: NEW ENTRY

In 2021-22: 33 goals, 10 assists.

Even after his slow start to the season, Kane is yet again on course to score 40 goals for club and country in 2021-22.

It is his playmaking abilities that have gone to yet another level over the course of the season, though, with there perhaps not a better striker in the world at dropping deep and laying on assists for team-mates than the England captain right now.

16. Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Last time: 13th

In 2021-22: 16 goals, 25 assists. Won DFB-Supercup.

Muller could not spark Bayern into action as they went down to Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, with the Bavarians’ away form in the competition surely now a concern should they turn the tie around and reach the final four.

15. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)

Last time: 15th

In 2021-22: 28 goals, 18 assists.

Another week, another goal and assist for Nkunku, who continues to put together one of the best individual campaigns the Bundesliga has seen outside of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund players.

14. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

Last time: 8th

In 2021-22: 27 goals, nine assists.

How costly will that late miss by Mahrez against Liverpool prove to be?

Man City’s top scorer fluffed his lines when presented with the chance to all but end the Premier League title race in stoppage time on Sunday, and he must now hope that it does not go down as a costly error.

13. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

Last time: NEW ENTRY

In 2021-22: Three goals, 10 assists, 22 clean sheets.

There are very few players who can claim to be one of the best in the world in two different positions, but Cancelo certainly can when it comes to right-back and left-back.

The Portugal international was sensational for Man City in their draw with Liverpool, providing a sublime assist for Gabriel Jesus while defending stoically against Mohamed Salah.

12. Diogo Jota (Liverpool)

Last time: 11th

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

Jota added another goal to his ever-increasing tally for the season on Sunday, justifying Jurgen Klopp’s decision to start him against Manchester City.

With Mohamed Salah having seen his form drop off, Jota has stepped up superbly to score some crucial goals for Liverpool in recent weeks.

11. Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Last time: 7th

In 2021-22: 11 goals, eight assists.

While Bernardo continues to put in excellent displays for Man City, that he is doing so while others take the plaudits in terms of goals and assists means he is likely to fall outside the true challengers in the final Ballon d’Or reckoning.

10. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Last time: 10th

In 2021-22: Two goals, 21 assists, 20 clean sheets. Won Carabao Cup.

While questions still remain over his defensive capabilities, Alexander-Arnold showed yet again this week why he is regarded as one of Europe’s best playmakers.

The Liverpool star’s array of passing against Benfica was mesmerising, before he provided a superb assist for Diogo Jota to score against Manchester City.

9. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

Last time: 16th

In 2021-22: 11 goals, 13 assists.

If Manchester City do go on to claim their first Champions League title, then Foden’s 20-minute cameo against Atletico Madrid will go down as being one of the most important displays of the campaign.

The England international provided the spark City needed to break down Diego Simeone’s defence, providing one sublime assist while also almost setting up further goals in the closing stages.

8. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

Last time: 9th

In 2021-22: 17 goals, 15 assists. Won Supercopa de Espana.

An absolute menace down the Madrid left, Vinicius yet again showed the world just how much he has improved over the past 12 months with his performance against Chelsea.

His sublime assist for Karim Benzema’s opener was the highlight of his display, and he will be relied upon again to create chances in the second leg.

7. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Last time: 14th

In 2021-22: 15 goals, 12 assists.

Six goals in as many games now for De Bruyne, who is once again showing why many believe he is the best midfield player in world football.

The Belgium star got the all-important opening goals against both Atletico Madrid and Liverpool over the past week, and could yet make a late run for the Ballon d’Or if Man City win a treble.

6. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

Last time: 6th

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

He does not get all the headlines, but Mane was again in the right place at the right time for Liverpool over the past week, scoring against both Benfica and Man City.

How crucial his equaliser at the Etihad Stadium proves to be in the Premier League title race, only time will tell.

5. Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Last time: 5th

In 2021-22: Six goals, 10 assists. Won Supercopa de Espana.

Modric produced yet another sumptuous assist for Karim Benzema against Chelsea, as the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner again impressed in the Champions League.

His importance to Carlo Ancelotti’s side was further illustrated by him being left on the bench for Saturday’s win over Getafe, with Los Blancos keen to keep their star midfielder under wraps ahead of Tuesday’s return clash with the defending European champions.

4. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

Last time: 4th

In 2021-22: 40 goals, 27 assists. Won UEFA Nations League.

Whether Kylian Mbappe does leave Paris Saint-Germain or not this summer, he certainly seems keen to end the season with a bang.

The France forward has mustered a frankly unbelievable 10 direct goal involvements in his last two games, and though the opposition have not been the strongest, Mbappe has been keen to put them to the sword regardless.

3. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Last time: 3rd

In 2021-22: 30 goals, 15 assists. Won Carabao Cup.

Salah’s wait for a first goal from open play since mid-February continues, though his assist for Sadio Mane’s goal against Manchester City suggested that his undoubted class has gone nowhere.

He remains ahead of Kylian Mbappe in these rankings for now on the strength of the trophies he could yet win, and the say he could have in Liverpool winning them.

2. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Last time: 1st

In 2021-22: 52 goals, eight assists. Won DFL-Supercup.

Lewandowski will have to muster up more magic in front of goal for Bayern to reach the Champions League semi-finals after he was kept quiet by Villarreal in the Bavarians’ quarter-final first-leg defeat in Spain.

The Poland international bounced back by scoring the late winner against Augsburg on Saturday, maintaining his side’s nine-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table.

1. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Last time: 2nd

In 2021-22: 40 goals, 13 assists. Won UEFA Nations League & Supercopa de Espana.

Not since Zinedine Zidane in 1998 has a Frenchman won France Football’s prestigious prize, but Benzema has put himself firmly in the driving seat as the race for the 2022 award enters its crucial weeks.

His hat-trick against Chelsea means he has now provided the two defining individual performances of this season’s Champions League so far, while his goals are also firing Real Madrid towards the Spanish title.