For all the controversy and criticism it generates, the Ballon d’Or remains the most important individual award in world football, and the race to claim the 2022 prize is all-but over.
France Football announced in March that the rules for Ballon d’Or voting have changed, with the key one being that the award will be based on performances over a single season, rather than a calendar year.
That means performances at the 2022 World Cup, which is set to kick-off in November, will not be considered this year, and instead will be judged when voting for the 2023 Ballon d’Or gets under way.
The importance placed on trophies (aka ‘Jorginho’s Law’) has also been scaled back, meaning the prize should reflect the best footballers from each season, rather than those who lift the most silverware.
With all that in mind, and with the nominees for the 2022 prize set to be announced on Friday.
3-Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
In 2021-22: 33 goals, 19 assists. Won FA Cup & Carabao Cup.
2-Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
In 2021-22: 33 goals, five assists. Won Africa Cup of Nations, FA Cup & Carabao Cup.
1-Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
In 2021-22: 48 goals, 15 assists. Won Champions League, La Liga, UEFA Nations League & Supercopa de Espana.
In terms of consistency through the season, the number of top-level performances, standing up in the biggest moments possible and final trophy haul, Benzema ticks every box needed to win a Ballon d’Or.