We’re back, and are slowly getting to the business end of our Ballon d’Or predictions for 2022.
The ceremony is not until Monday 17 October, however, and with our predictions running every Thursday, we have three more rounds to go, including this next batch below.
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And then tuck into the below, where we select the names which could – and in this writer’s view should – fail to make the top 10.
A quick reminder, having explained in detail the first time around, there are 100 journalists who each get to pick a top five.
Men’s Ballon d’Or: Our 15-11 predictions
15. Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
2021-22 highlights – Premier League winner
Already 15th feels a little high for Mahrez, but there’s no going back now, and the Algerian could easily reach the double digits for points if he makes just a handful of top fives from the 100 journalists across the globe voting. He reached the double digits for goals in the Premier League last season, but more impressive were his Champions League exploits, where he outscored his team-mates with seven goals. Second on the list was Gabriel Jesus was seven. After an agonising exit to Real Madrid in the semis, Mahrez will be wondering what might have been.
14. Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
2021-22 highlights – FA Cup and EFL Cup winner, Champions League Team of the Season
The ‘What might have beens’ continue for every Liverpool player that makes this list. They were a couple of points and a Champions League away from an unprecedented quadruple that would have easily seen a handful of their players make the Ballon d’Or top 10. However, with the FA Cup and EFL Cup to show for their tireless efforts, Van Dijk may do well to break the top 10 and will be asking what if his outstretched leg had ended up blocking the cross for Vinicious Jr’s winner.
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk
Image credit: Getty Images
13. Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)
2021-22 highlights – 24 goals including 18 in Premier League
His name is there, unlike Lionel Messi’s, so expect Ronaldo to get some points by proxy, a no doubt popular pick despite a season that would have failed to live up to his expectations, both in terms of goals and the lack of silverware that came from Manchester United’s performances.
12. Heung-min Son (Tottenham)
2021-22 highlights – Premier League Golden Boot winner
There’s one nation where Son could easily pick up a handful of points, and the South Korean could prove popular in sneaking a point or two elsewhere after his Golden Boot heroics in the Premier League. That said, it could take around 20-30 points to break into the top 10 – Erling Haaland received 33 points last year when 170 journalists were voting last year and he came 11th – so it seems Son would do well to place any higher given the names remaining.
11. Casemiro (Man Utd)
2021-22 highlights – La Liga and Champions League winner
Toni Kroos missed out on the shortlist, while Luka Modric is – in our view – a certainty to make the top 10, but we have Casemiro missing out. He may not possess the wand of an outside boot that Modric possesses, but Casemiro’s Champions League final highlights are a sight to behold, a masterclass in screening defences and frustrating opposition. He will get points, but enough to trouble what is a stacked top 10 below? We’re not so sure.
- Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
- Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
- Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
- Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
- Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)
- Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich)
- Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
- Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
Women’s Ballon d’Or: Our 12-9 predictions
We’ve been going down in fours for our women’s predictions given there was a 20-player shortlist. That means we dip into a top 10 here, but only to ninth. Next week will be eighth to fifth and then our top four on October 13.
12. Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave)
2021-22 highlights – CONCACAF Women’s Championship winner and Golden Ball
There is seemingly no slowing the 33-year-old down, with the striker on a run of almost one goal per game this season in the NWSL (15 in 17 at the time of writing) for San Diego Wave, having joined the club for the 2022 campaign after ending her association with Orlando Pride. It is difficult to shake the sense, however unfair it may be for Morgan, that Euro 2022 will stick strongly in the minds of voters, hence our guess that she’ll place below the following duo.
11. Alexandra Popp (Wolfsburg)
2021-22 highlights – Six goals at Euro 2022 and Team of the Tournament, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal winner
What better name to stick in voters’ minds than someone called Popp, who brought a fizz to Germany’s cause at Euro 2022 and almost had the Germans dancing at Wembley? That’s a pretty atrocious double play on the word “pop”, but what wasn’t atrocious was Popp’s contribution in the Championships. Six goals in all, including both in the 2-1 semi-final win over France, and to add another ‘What might have been’ to this piece – the 31-year-old agonisingly suffered an injury in the warm-up before Germany’s game against England. Who knows how it would have played out with Popp on the pitch?
Alexandra Popp celebrates scoring her team’s second goal during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final football match between Germany and France
Image credit: Getty Images
10. Lena Oberdorf (Wolfsburg)
2021-22 highlights – Euro 2022 Young Player of the Tournament and Team of the Tournament, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal winner
Popp’s club and international team-mate Oberdorf emerged as one of the best young players on the planet this year, with the versatile 20-year-old playing a key role in Wolfsburg’s domestic double as well as Germany’s run to the final. She was rightly awarded young player of the tournament at Euro 2022, making the team of the tournament too, and already with 32 caps for her nation, she is not simply Germany’s future, but their present.
9. Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG)
2021-22 highlights – Division 1 Feminine player of the year and top scorer
Another ‘What might have been’, and what a shame this one was too. Katoto should still get recognition for her terrific domestic campaign in 2021-22, where she outshone Lyon players to pick up the Division 1 Feminine player of the year after topping the league’s goalscoring charts. Devastatingly, though, she suffered a knee injury in France’s second group game against Belgium at Euro 2022, ruling her out for the remainder of the tournament.
The remaining eight:
- Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona)
- Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)
- Sam Kerr (Chelsea)
- Catarina Macario (Lyon)
- Beth Mead (Arsenal)
- Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
- Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
- Wendie Renard (Lyon)
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