With few weeks to the prestigious award ceremony, we have compiled the names of the 10 current favorites to the 2023 Ballon d’Or award.
After witnessing Karim Benzema claim his first Ballon d’Or last year, football’s biggest stars enter 2023 more determined than ever to lay their hands on the iconic award.
A combination of votes from football journalists, coaches, and team captains decides the winner of France Football’s annual accolade – only this year France Football has changed some rules.
The key one is that the votes will be based on performances for the 2022/23 season and how the players performed for their respective nations at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar last winter.
So, with these new factors in mind, we have come up with ￼the 10 current favorites to win the 67th edition of the Ballon d’Or as of September 2023.
10. Robert Lewandowski (FC Barcelona) 🇵🇱
Even at the later age of 34, Robert Lewandowski took on a new challenge. He swapped the all-conquering German champs Bayern Munich for the cash-strapped Barcelona last summer in a €45 million transfer.
In his debut season, Lewandowski proved to be a force to be reckoned with. Despite some bumps in the road, he emerged as the top scorer in La Liga, smashing in an impressive 23 goals. But his talents weren’t limited to the league, he made a huge impact, scoring an incredible 33 goals and even providing eight assists. With his contributions, Barca secured their first league title since 2019 and walked away with the Spanish Super Cup
9. Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan) 🇦🇷
Although Lautaro Martinez wasn’t in top form in the 1-0 Champions League final defeat to Manchester City, it still shouldn’t take away from him. He had arguably his finest campaign in the black and blue jersey, helping Inter Milan secure a cup double in the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana.
In all, Lautaro finished last season with double figures across, with 28 goals and 11 assists in 58 games. The striker also helped Argentina win the World Cup last winter and has enjoyed a blistering start to this term.
8. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) 🇧🇷
In 2022-23, Vinicius Junior stepped up onto the mantle of Real Madrid’s main man. The winger may not have been as prolific as Karim Benzema, but his movement, energy, and on-ball skills make him a joy to watch. Now donning Real Madrid’s famous No.7 jersey, the Brazilian is certainly going to do better and better.
In just 55 games, Vinicius notched an impressive 23 goals and 21 assists across all competitions. This 23-year-old winger’s efforts were critical as Real Madrid came out on top in the Copa del Rey, FIFA Club World Cup, and UEFA Super Cup
7. Victor Osimhen (Napoli) 🇳🇬
Victor Osimhen’s performance last season was nothing short of exceptional. He’s been in the spotlight ever since and has now made it to the Ballon d’Or list. Some may write him off as an underdog, but let’s not forget the amazing feat he achieved in Naples.
Osimhen was the standout star of Napoli’s historic Serie A title win. His stunning 26 goals in the Italian league secured the coveted top-scorer spot and helped bring home the first championship since the days of the legendary Diego Maradona in 1990. With a second consecutive title in his sights, the striker is set to continue his meteoric rise to footballing superstardom.
6. Ilkay Gundogan (FC Barcelona) 🇩🇪
The German maestro may not have the most impressive stats, but when it comes to big-game performance, he’s a force to be reckoned with. If the Ballon d’Or was awarded solely on clutch plays, Gundogan would easily be a top-two contender. His ability to step up when it matters most is nothing short of elite.
Let’s not forget, that Gundogan scored critical braces against Leeds and Everton to send Manchester City on their way to another Premier League title. He then smashed home both goals to seal City’s 2-1 win over Manchester United in the FA Cup, before captaining the club to a first-ever Champions League trophy to complete a treble. He is now playing for FC Barcelona after signing for the Catalan club earlier this summer.
5. Kylian Mbappe (PSG) 🇫🇷
Kylian Mbappe’s Ballon d’Or nomination is no surprise – after all, he’s a hero on the world stage. His performance in the World Cup, where he scored an incredible eight goals for France, will be etched in football history forever. And who can forget that jaw-dropping hat trick he scored in the final? He really was unlucky not to come away with another winner’s medal.
Now, with the departures of Neymar and Lionel Messi, the spotlight shines even brighter on Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain. Can he rise to the occasion and lead his team to glory? It will be a tough ask. The striker had another exceptional campaign in 2022/23, but PSG’s defeats in the Champions League and Coupe de France put a slight damper on it.
4. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) 🇧🇪
With the arrival of Erling Haaland last season, Kevin De Bruyne teamed up with the Norwegian to wreak havoc on the pitch! De Bruyne’s selfless play and deadly playmaking abilities were on full display as he dished out assists left and right for Manchester City. His contributions proved absolutely critical in the club’s triumphant treble success.
The Belgium international reached double figures again with 10 goals and an incredible 31 assists in all competitions. His performances earned him a fifth Premier League title with City, a second FA Cup, and the first Champions League trophy of his career. He’s unlucky to be out injured again, but that shouldn’t rule him out of a strong Ballon d’Or finish.
3. Rodri (Manchester City) 🇪🇸
Rodri is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable holding midfielders in the world. His performances for Manchester City last season proved it. With a staggering 52 games under his belt, the Spanish player was a true rock in the midfield. He consistently delivered top-notch performances for Pep Guardiola’s treble-winning squad, leaving fans and critics alike in awe of his talent and skill.
Whether he’s charging up the pitch or holding down the fort, Rodri’s got the game on lock and is a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. Let’s not forget about his game-winning goal in the Champions League final. Nor his role in Spain winning the UEFA Nations League in June. Undoubtedly, Rodri is one of the best players in the world right now.
2. Erling Haaland (Manchester City) 🇳🇴
It’s hard not to sympathize with Erling Haaland. He gave it his all, but Norway’s absence in the World Cup definitely didn’t do him any favors. On the bright side, his extraordinary contributions to Manchester City’s treble victory make him a prime contender for the Ballon d’Or at just 23 years old. With that kind of skill and talent, the sky’s the limit for this rising star.
If only Haaland had shown up in the FA Cup and Champions League finals with his A-game, he would’ve easily taken the top spot in the rankings. Alas, the 52-goal striker went ice-cold. But who knows, maybe he’ll surprise us all yet.
1. Lionel Messi (Inter Miami CF) 🇦🇷
Lionel Messi’s World Cup performances may just secure an eighth Ballon d’Or for him. In Qatar, he dazzled on the pitch, leading Argentina to their long-awaited World Cup triumph after a 36-year drought. It was the one trophy that had eluded him throughout his illustrious career, and he finally got his hands on it.
In his second and final season at PSG, Messi proved that he still had it in him. With an incredible 21 goals and 20 assists in just 41 games, including a league-best 16 assists in Ligue 1, he led his team to a second French league title. His story has since taken a new turn. He crossed the Atlantic to join Inter Miami in the summer, and boy, is he on fire! Scoring goals left and right, he has already led the MLS club to their first trophy.
Who would you love to see win the 2023 Ballon d’Or award?