*Odds up to date as of March 21, 2023
In this article, we look at the leading contenders for the 2023 Ballon d’Or in the eyes of the betting sites and best betting apps, with some familiar names at the top of the list.
Karim Benzema was the predictable winner of the 2022 Ballon d'Or and attention now turns towards the candidates who will be competing for the 2023 award. Lionel Messi produced a series of remarkable performances to help Argentina land the 2022 World Cup and the bookmakers reacted by installing the 35-year-old as the favourite with the football betting sites to claim this individual accolade once again.
Messi wasn't the only outstanding individual performer at the 2022 World Cup, with Kylian Mbappe walking away with the Golden Boot and the Frenchman is also prominent in the Ballon d'Or betting market. Much depends on how the two Paris Saint-Germain players perform for the remainder of the domestic season although a Champions League exit means that the spotlight moves elsewhere.
Manchester City are favourites to win the European Cup and their star striker Erling Haaland might be able to secure his first ever Ballon d'Or this year. Another player in consideration is 2022 winner Karim Benzema, with the Frenchman once again spearheading an assault for Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or an incredible seven times, with many regarding the 35-year-old as the greatest of all time. The forward recently helped Argentina land the 2022 World Cup and there is little doubt that the 35-year-old was highly instrumental in helping his country record this incredible achievement.
It would be no surprise if Messi was able to land Ballon d'Or number eight next December, with the bookmakers installing him as the odds-on favourite. After scoring throughout the World Cup, he was able to find the net twice in the final against France before scoring in the victorious penalty shoot-out.
Messi won his second FIFA World Cup Golden Ball in Qatar and returned to Paris Saint-Germain in the hope that he could win the Champions League for the fifth time after recording four titles with Barcelona. A success in Europe would have seen his odds shorten although an exit at the hands of Bayern Munich occurred at the last sixteen stage.
Kylian Mbappe cut a resigned figure at the end of the 2022 World Cup final. The 23-year-old was heroic against Argentina when scoring a hat-trick before once again finding the net during the penalty shoot-out, although the forward did at least land the World Cup Golden Boot after outscoring Lionel Messi in the tournament.
Mbappe will return to the French capital hoping to be the star of the show at Paris Saint-Germain during the 2022-23 season and he has been installed as second favourite to land the 2023 Ballon d'Or award. However, PSG were unable cast off their bridesmaid tag in Europe and win the Champions League, while the striker has to share a stage with Messi.
A few months ago, there was a complete turnaround at the Parc des Princes after news emerged that Mbappe was signing a new deal at the Parisian club having previously looked as though a switch to Real Madrid was on the cards. The forward now represents the future of the club and confirmed his superstar status when setting the stage alight for France at the 2022 World Cup.
Mbappe finished sixth in the 2022 Ballon d'Or standings and will now look to demonstrate that he's the best player on the planet. However, the downside is that there are rumours that the forward is unsettled once again at PSG, with the forward having apparently been given assurances when signing a new PSG deal that haven't been kept.
Manchester City are the 2022-23 Champions League favourites and perhaps Erling Haaland is the player that is going to help them over the line this season. The Norwegian has been incredible following his move from Borussia Dortmund and recently broke through the 40-goal mark for the season.
If Haaland continues to score goals at his current rate, it stands to reason that the forward will be in strong contention to land a first Ballon d'Or at the age of 22, although a slight disadvantage is that he didn't appear at the 2022 World Cup due to Norway's failure to qualify. However, he has a chance to shine for his country in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Even so, if Manchester City are crowned champions of Europe and Haaland scores the goals that ultimately help them to secure the European Cup for the first time in their history, then we have seen in the case of Benzema that this could be enough to win this award. He certainly can't be ruled out after recently scoring five goals in the Champions League against Leipzig.
Neymar is the third superstar forward at Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazilian will hope to bounce back from the disappointment in Qatar where he was out injured for a large chunk of Brazil's time in the competition. The player did return to set the stage alight against South Korea at the last-16 stage of the World Cup although he wasn't able to help the tournament favourites past Croatia in the next round.
The 30-year-old will now reunite with Messi and Mbappe at PSG where is currently playing third fiddle considering that his two high-profile teammates were able to perform to very high levels at the 2022 World Cup. It won't sit well with a player who wants to be the centre of attention and he will have to now produce some fireworks on a domestic level.
While Neymar has plenty of achievements to show for his career, he has only won the Champions League on one occasion and never secured a Ballon d'Or. He will be dismayed that Lionel Messi is continuing to operate for Argentina and it could be difficult for the Brazilian to win this award.
Karim Benzema will have cut a frustrated figure when watching his French side compete in the 2022 World Cup without him. While the Real Madrid striker was included in the original 26-man squad to play at the tournament, injury prevented him from actually participating and the forward saw Les Bleus reach the final before losing to Argentina.
Benzema was the winner of the 2022 Ballon d'Or award when accruing the most votes and he had previously helped Real Madrid to an astonishing Champions League success. The Frenchman fired goals past Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to steer Real to the European Cup final before they were able to beat Liverpool in Paris.
Perhaps the forward can make history again this season, with his performances against Liverpool helping Real Madrid to an impressive 6-2 aggregate win in the last-16 stage of the competition. While the La Liga title will go the way of Barcelona this season, perhaps Real can conquer Europe again with the help of Benzema.
Kevin de Bruyne was wowing everyone in the Bundesliga with his performances for Wolfsburg before Manchester City decided to sign the Belgian for what seemed like a princely sum of £50 million.
City haven't looked back and KDB appears to be getting closer to winning a Ballon d'Or, coming third in the 2022 standings. The big downside to his prospects is that Belgium exited the 2022 World Cup at the group phase, with the midfielder unable to reproduce the level of performance that has seen Manchester City land multiple Premier League titles.
Even so, De Bruyne remains the ticking heartbeat of the Manchester City team who are favourites to win this season's Champions League. There is a long period of time between now and the voting taking place and recency bias means that the Belgian has plenty of time to secure this award.
Robert Lewandowski emerged as one of the favourites to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or award prior to the voting closing. The Poland striker scored over 40 goals for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in each of the past six seasons, but he had never been placed in the top three of the Ballon d’Or voting before 2021, when he finished second.
Lewandowski then went on to finish fourth in the 2022 Ballon d'Or standings, with the forward representing Poland at the 2022 World Cup. The Poles reached the last-16 stage of the tournament before losing to France, although the striker will now return to Barcelona and hope to continue breaking records.
Perhaps the horse has bolted for the striker when it comes to winning the Ballon d'Or when you consider that Barca are not competing in the Champions League and it is hard to see how he can finish ahead of so many illustrious rivals.
Mohamed Salah was originally one of the favourites to win the 2022 Ballon d'Or at the beginning of the year, although the Egyptian king struggled to produce the level of performance that we'd witnessed during the first half of the season. Liverpool narrowly missed out on the title and also lost to Karim Benzema's Real Madrid in the Champions League.
Salah has not had a vintage season and it's therefore unlikely that the Liverpool forward will canvas many votes for the Ballon d'Or award. He is now part of a new-look front three with Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez, with the trio conspiring to help the Reds secure a massive 7-0 win over Manchester United recently.
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