The Ballon d'Or is the most prestigious individual prize in football. It is presented by French news magazine France Football to the best performing footballer in a season. The 2022 Ballon d'Or ceremony will take place on October 17.
Karim Benzema is widely tipped to be the favorite to win this year's Ballon d'Or. Players like Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mane and Kylian Mbappe are all contenders this time around.
Now that the 2022-23 season is underway, we have a fair bit of an idea about what players are likely to place themselves in contention for the Ballon d'Or next year.
Without further ado, let's take a look at the five favorites for the 2023 Ballon d'Or.
#5 Lionel Messi (Argentina/Paris Saint-Germain)
Lionel Messi endured a difficult debut season at Paris Saint-Germain. This was the first time in over a decade that he had failed to make the 30-man Ballon d'Or shortlist. The Argentinian icon has turned 35 and it looked like his contributions were starting to dwindle as he is approaching the twilight of his career.
However, after being shifted to a more central role in the new season, Messi seems to be getting back to his best. The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has been on fire for PSG in the opening stages of the new campaign.
His playmaking skills are second to none and his incredible passing and vision have been key to their dominance so far in the 2022-23 season. In nine appearances across all competitions so far this term, Messi has scored four goals and provided seven assists.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup is likely to be Messi's last and if he can perform to the best of his abilities, that will further boost his chances of winning an eighth Ballon d'Or.
#4 Erling Haaland (Norway/Manchester City)
Erling Haaland is only 22 but he has already established himself as one of the best strikers on the planet. The Norway international secured a switch from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City this summer on a deal worth €60 million.
Haaland was widely tipped to complete the City side that lacked an out-and-out centre-forward. Not only has he completed them, but he has already elevated them with his elite marksmanship. Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm and has already scored two hat-tricks in the first month of the new season.
He has scored 12 goals and provided an assist in eight appearances across all competitions for Pep Guardiola's side so far this term.
#3 Kylian Mbappe (France/Paris Saint-Germain)
Kylian Mbappe is a top contender for this year's Ballon d'Or. The 23-year-old scored 39 goals and provided 26 assists in 46 appearances across all competitions in the 2021-22 season for Paris Saint-Germain. He looks to be well on course to replicate those levels in the ongoing campaign as well.
Mbappe has got off to a great start to the new season. His blistering pace, composure and ability to create chances inside the final third make him one of the best attackers on the planet.
In seven appearances across all competitions so far this season, Mbappe has scored nine goals.
#2 Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Barcelona)
Robert Lewandowski left Bayern Munich to join Barcelona this summer. The Poland international has got off to a dream start to life at his new club and is already their most important player. Lewandowski is one of the best strikers of his generation and has been in incredible form in recent years.
The 33-year-old has picked up the European Shoe in the last two seasons. He is yet to win a Ballon d'Or but could very well make the podium or even go on to win the award this year. Going by the way he has started the new campaign, he is likely to end up as one of the favorites to win the Ballon d'Or next year as well.
Lewandowski has scored nine goals and provided two assists in seven appearances across all competitions for Barcelona so far this term.
#1 Neymar Jr. (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain)
Just as the world was starting to view him as a player who had passed his prime, Neymar Jr. has responded in astounding fashion. The Brazil international has been a force to be reckoned with this new campaign, terrorizing defenders with his dribbling, passing and finishing.
The 30-year-old is one of the best attackers of the modern era and he seems to be getting back to his best this season. He has scored 10 goals and provided seven assists in nine appearances across all competitions so far this term for Paris Saint-Germain.
Brazil are one of the favorites to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup and if that happens, Neymar could become a top contender for the 2023 Ballon d'Or.