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The Ballon d'Or is one of the most, if not the most, controversial awards in world football. The trophy is presented annually to the best football player in the world in the men's game.

Based on the various leagues and competitions that players compete in, it can be difficult to judge just which player is the best of the best. The Ballon d'Or tries to do just that by awarding the top footballer with the prestigious award voted on by a panel of judges.

The Ballon d'Or is a prestigious award presented by French magazine France Football. The honour has been handed out since 1956. For much of the past decade, the award was shuttled back and forth between two men, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have dominated the competition over the years. On 23 occasions, a Barcelona or Real Madrid player was awarded the Ballon d'Or. Ballon d'Or odds are often in favour of players from one of the two Spanish giants even if those players are not worthy of the honour.

The 2022 Ballon d'Or is bound to be just as controversial as in previous years. A strong group of players are all battling for the award with only one man able to lift the trophy.

Ballon D'Or Betting Odds

It is no surprise that a Real Madrid player leads the Ballon d'Or odds. Karim Benzema is the odds on favourite to win the trophy thanks to his brilliant 2021-22 for Los Blancos. Benzema helped Real Madrid win the La Liga title this season and has the chance to lift the UEFA Champions League trophy once more.

Benzema also returned to the French national team in 2021. He played at the Euro 2020 tournament where he scored four goals. Benzema has scored 43 goals in 43 games at the time of this writing. He is the reason Real Madrid are La Liga winners and Champions League finalists. Benzema's betting odds are at 1/3.

The Real Madrid man has competition from two Liverpool players. Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is at the best betting odds of 6/1 to win the Ballon d'Or. Salah is having a stellar season and could win four trophies at Anfield.

He has already helped Liverpool win the EFL Cup. He could still win the Champions League, FA Cup, and Premier League. Salah has 30 goals and 14 assists in 45 games in all competitions.

Fellow Liverpool player Sadio Mane is at the odds of 12/1 to win the award. Not only is Mane having a fantastic season on Merseyside, but he helped Senegal win the CAF Africa Cup of Nations for the first time ever.

Mane has 20 goals in 45 matches in all competitions for Liverpool. There is a possibility that Mane could make a late run for the trophy. If he can help his team win the three trophies still on the table this season and score goals, Mane could be the second African to win the award.

A number of other top players are in the running for the award. Manchester City player Kevin De Bruyne is at the odds of 14/1. Robert Lewandowski, who should have won the award in 2020 were it not cancelled, is at the best betting odds of 20/1. Paris Saint Germain player Kylian Mbappe is 20/1 to win the Ballon d'Or, while Cristiano Ronaldo is 33/1.

Seven-time winner Lionel Messi is at the best odds of 50/1. Despite his extremely poor club season at Paris Saint Germain, Messi won the CONMEBOL Gold Cup which helped him win the 2021 Ballon d'Or. Could he shock the world and win the Ballon d'Or once more?

When Is the Ballon D'or 2022 Winner Announced?

The award period falls in line with the European season which runs from August to July. The 2022 award will take into account the performances of players during the 2021-22 football season.

The 2022 season will officially end with the Women’s Euro 2022 tournament in June and July. Since the Men's FIFA World Cup won't be played until the autumn/winter, the tournament will have no impact on the Ballon d'Or 2022.

The Ballon d’Or ceremony for 2022 will take place in October 2022. The ceremony will be around two months into the new football season in Europe.

When are the Ballon D'or Nominees Announced?

A month prior to the Ballon d'Or winner being announced in October, a list of nominees will be announced for voters to select from.

A list of 30 players will be released to vote on. The players will have had impressive 2021-22 seasons for both club and country.

In the days leading up to the Ballon d'Or ceremony, a three-man shortlist will be released. From these three players, voters will make their final selection.

Will Karim Benzema Win the Ballon D'Or?

Karim Benzema is the odds on favourite to win the Ballon d'Or for the first time. If he does win the trophy, it will be the 12th win for Real Madrid, which will tie Spanish rival Barcelona for all time wins.

Benzema has had a great season at Real Madrid. He won La Liga and could lift the Champions League trophy at the end of May. He has 43 goals in 43 games for Los Blancos.

His stats have been excellent for Real Madrid. Yet, what makes Benzema more likely to win the trophy is that he plays for Real Madrid. In 2018, Madrid midfielder Luka Modric controversially won the Ballon d'Or despite players such as Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, and Antoine Griezman being just as good throughout the season.

The main aspect of Modric's season that led to the win was simply playing for Real Madrid. It could work in Benzema's favour this season too.

Will Mo Salah Win the Ballon D'Or?

Salah has had a strong season for Liverpool and it could get even better with three trophies up for grabs. Not only does Salah have the chance to win four trophies in one season with Liverpool and win the Premier League Golden Boot award (arguably the world's most difficult football league), but Salah reached the CAF African Cup of Nations final with Egypt in the winter.

The Egyptian King has 30 goals and 14 assists in all competitions. He isn't just a goalscorer, but a creator of goals for Liverpool. Unfortunately for the Liverpool player, just one previous African won the Ballon d'Or award.

Will Robert Lewandowski Win the Ballon D'or?

Lewandowski should have won the Ballon d'Or award in 2020. However, the 2020 Ballon d'Or was not given out due to COVID-19. Even in 2021, Lewandowski was worthy of winning the trophy but didn't.

The Bayern Munich man has had a great season, but it hasn't been as strong as the previous two campaigns. Lewandowski helped Bayern Munich win the Bundesliga once more. He has 49 goals in 44 games for Bayern.

As it stands, Lewandowski has scored more goals in fewer games than Benzema. He also arguably plays in a more difficult league than Benzema. However, this debate of which league is more difficult often leads to voters not agreeing over which player is most deserving of the trophy.

Will Lionel Messi Win the Ballon D'or?

Lionel Messi may have had a poor season at Ligue 1 club Paris Saint Germain, but don't be shocked if he wins the Ballon d'Or. There are enough voters who are fans of Messi that it wouldn't be a surprise to see Messi win the award.

Although it wouldn't be a surprise, Messi should be nowhere near the final three nominees. He has struggled to fit into Paris Saint Germain's team. He was unable to help the Parisians get through the Champions League quarter-finals.

Messi has a mere nine goals in 31 matches in all competitions. He has collected 13 assists, but for the most part, Messi has not adapted to life outside of Barcelona. The good news for Messi is that he still holds a lead over Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo in the number of Ballon d'Or awards in the trophy cabinet.

How Many Ballon D'or Has Messi Won?

Messi has seven Ballon d'Or awards. He was runner up on five further occasions.

Who Won the Ballon D'or in 2021?

The 2021 Ballon d'Or winner was Lionel Messi. The Barcelona forward was awarded his seventh trophy in the competition. Messi scored 38 goals in 47 games for Barcelona in 2020-21 while adding 14 assists.

Barcelona did not win La Liga or the Champions League in 2021. The only trophy Messi lifted during the season was the Copa del Rey. Yet, the Argentine won the CONMEBOL Gold Cup for the first time, which likely helped in the voting. The win was Messi's seventh all time after first winning the trophy in 2009.

Ballon D'or 2021 List

  1. Lionel Messi

  2. Robert Lewandowski

  3. Jorginho

  4. Karim Benzema

  5. N'Golo Kante

  6. Cristiano Ronaldo

  7. Mohamed Salah

  8. Kevin De Bruyne

  9. Kylian Mbappe

  10. Gianluigi Donnarumma

Who Many Ballon D'or Has Cristiano Ronaldo Won?

Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo is second in most wins in the Ballon d'Or competition. The forward has five wins in the Ballon d'Or.

The Portuguese player has won a number of domestic cup and international trophy competitions. His success on the pitch led to five Ballon d'Or trophies between 2008 and 2017.

Ronaldo is currently two awards behind Messi in the race for most Ballon d'Or trophies. The forward won his first of the trophies in 2008 with Manchester United. His last award was in 2017 as a member of Real Madrid.

Ballon D'or Winners

  • Luis Figo, Real Madrid - 2000

  • Michael Owen, Liverpool - 2001

  • Ronaldo, Real Madrid - 2002

  • Pavel Nedved, Juventus - 2003

  • Andriy Shevchenko, AC Milan - 2004

  • Ronaldinho, Barcelona - 2005

  • Fabio Cannavaro, Real Madrid - 2006

  • Kaka, AC Milan - 2007

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Man Utd - 2008

  • Lionel Messi, Barcelona - 2009

  • Lionel Messi, Barcelona - 2010

  • Lionel Messi, Barcelona - 2011

  • Lionel Messi, Barcelona - 2012

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid - 2013

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid - 2014

  • Lionel Messi, Barcelona - 2015

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid - 2016

  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid - 2017

  • Luka Modric, Real Madrid - 2018

  • Lionel Messi, Barcelona - 2019

  • 2020 CANCELLED

  • Lionel Messi, Paris Saint Germain - 2021

Who Has Won the Ballon D'or the Most Times?

Lionel Messi has the most Ballon d'Or wins. The Pari forward has seven Ballon d'Or awards in his silverware cabinet. Even when it seemed unlikely for Messi to win the trophy for 2020-21, he won it to the surprise of some.

The Ballon d'Or is not always given to the best player in football. Rather, the trophy can be a popularity contest and given to the man voters enjoy watching the most. Football voters can get their votes wrong from time to time.

About the Ballon D'or

The Ballon d’Or award was established by former French international football player and journalist, Gabriel Hanot. In addition, he is credited with developing Ligue 1 in France and co-founding the European Cup L’Equipe writer Jacques Ferran. 

The trophy was first handed out in 1956. The Ballon d’Or was initially given to the player considered the European Footballer of the Year. At the time, the award was only handed out to European footballers on European teams. 

In 1995, the rules for the competition's eligible winners were altered. AC Milan’s George Weah won the award the same year to become the first non-European winner. Two years later, Brazilian striker Ronaldo became the first South American player to win the Ballon d’Or award. 

Since 2007, the Ballon d'Or has been open to all players from every continent. Despite being open to players from around the globe, no winner has played outside of Europe's top five leagues. In addition, only players from South America and Europe have won the award since 2007.

From 2010 to 2015, FIFA and France Football magazine formed a partnership to merge the Ballon d’Or with the FIFA World Player of the Year award. The new award was known as the FIFA Ballon d’Or. The awards were once again separated in 2016 when the partnership ended.

In 2018, France Football magazine established the Ballon d’Or Feminin award. The new trophy was created with the rise of women's football around the globe. It is handed out to the best woman football player in the world. 

Since being first handed out, there have been three winners. Norway's Ada Hegerberg (Wolfsburg), United States player Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), and Spain's Alex Putellas (Barcelona) were the initial three winners of the women's award.