The Ballon D’or is football’s most prestigious individual award. Handed out on an annual basis, it crowns the best male and female players on the planet. This year, the ceremony for both awards will take place in Paris on 30th October.
On the next episode of Football Now we’ll be looking ahead at the contenders for the women’s award, but this week, we’re looking into the favourites for the men’s category.
It’s one of football’s greatest honours, to be nominated for this award. One man who knows exactly what that feels like is former Spain midfielder Gaizka Mendieta. He placed 8th in the rankings in 2000, while he was one of the best players in Europe at La Liga side Valencia.
“It means that what you’re doing is being recognised,” Mendieta told us.
“One of the reasons why you play football is to, of course, win trophies and leave a legacy wherever you go. In my head, I always wanted to be one of the best midfielders in the world and being on that list means what you’re doing is being recognised.”
When it comes to this year’s nominees, a list of 30 talented players are in contention.
Players from 17 different nations representing 17 different clubs are on the shortlist, including last year’s winner, Karim Benzema. He is being recognised mainly for his goalscoring record at Real Madrid in the first half in 2023. In the summer, Benzema left European football and became one of the high-profile transfers to Saudi Arabia.
Manchester City have the most players after they won the treble in England. Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Julian Alvarez all played big parts in their Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League successes. Alvarez was also part of the Argentina 2022 World Cup winning squad, which is also being factored into the voting.
Of course, the main man of that team was Lionel Messi. He is the joint favourite heading into the ceremony, with Manchester City’s Haaland. What the pair have achieved in the last 12 months have been spectacular in their own rights. The problem is, there can only be one winner.
“Sentimentalists will want Messi to win it again,” football journalist Ben Jacobs told us, “whereas Haaland winning it would signify the start of a new era.”
“Haaland scored 52 goals in his debut season for City, in only 53 games. But then Messi won the World Cup and has also been on fire for Inter Miami since his move to the MLS. In the same way Messi has won multiple Ballon d’Ors over the years, Haaland could go on to do the same if he wins this. Either way, we’ll get a story if either are successful.”
The ceremony in Paris later this month will honour more than just the Ballon d’Or winner. Also included will be the Kopa Trophy, which will recognise the world’s best young player under 21 years old. Again, it is another packed shortlist filled with talent, but one man leads the way.
Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham has truly taken the football world by storm in the last 12 months. After catching the eye of many for England at the World Cup himself, he made a big money move to Spain in the summer after three seasons of really impressive football in Germany at Borussia Dortmund.
He’s only 20 years old and has the world at his feet. For England fans like Ryan Adsett, founder of The Social Room, it’s one of the most exciting prospects their country has ever produced.
“The credit should go to Jude Bellingham himself, because taking the career step to a club like Real Madrid is a huge decision,” Ryan explained.
“There were plenty of links to English clubs like Manchester City and Liverpool, but to take the step he did and wear the iconic no.5 shirt is pretty insane.”
So Bellingham leads the way in terms of the young talent, whereas it’ll be a battle between Messi and Haaland for the main award. All the winners will be revealed at the ceremony in Paris on October 30th, and whoever lifts the trophy will be more than deserving of the accolade.
Source: Euro News