The road to the 2022 Ballon d’Or crown has begun following Leo Messi’s record-breaking seventh win of the award at the event that held in Paris’ Chatelet Theatre on Monday, November 29.

A lot of uncertainty surrounds the influence of the 2022 World Cup on the votes for the Ballon d’Or as the tournament is scheduled to take place in November and December. This will be a few days after votes would have been cast for the Ballon d’Or if France Football sticks to their usual timetable of holding the event and not postponing it till after the World Cup.

One may argue that winning the World Cup has never really been a major deciding factor to winning the Ballon d’Or as was seen in 2010 and 2014 when Messi was crowned best player despite Spain and Germany being victorious in the respective World Cups. However, the high-class performances of players like Luka Modric, who led Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final, and Fabio Cannavaro, who inspired the Italian team to glory in the 2006 World Cup had significant influence in their Ballon d’Or wins. The same can be said of Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups respectively.

The influence of the World Cup on the Ballon d’Or votes is worthy of note as the last eight events held in World Cup years have had 21 out of 24 podium positions (first, second and third) go to a player whose country reached the semi-finals or final.

Going into the new year, the main contenders to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or are Mohamed Salah, Robert Lewandoski, and Lionel Messi.

Salah is undoubtedly the best player in the world at the moment. He’s had a fantastic start to the season with Liverpool, scoring or assisting in nearly every game. Salah’s form is unlikely to plummet in the new year, but he will almost certainly need to win trophies with club or country to be in with a chance of becoming Africa’s first Ballon d’Or winner since George Weah in 1995.

With 28 goals in all competition for Bayern Munich this season, Lewandoski is one of the top contenders for the Ballon d’Or next year. The Polish sharpshooter missed out on winning the prestigious award this year after amassing 580 votes behind Messi’s 618 which many feel was unfair to him following the cancellation of the award ceremony last year.

Lewandoski may end up missing the 2022 World Cup with Poland having to play Russia in the playoffs semi-final and possibly face either Sweden or Czech Republic in the final. Bayern Munich is one of the favourites in the UEFA Champions League and a win there will increase the chances of Lewandowski winning the Ballon d’Or for the first time.

Following Messi’s unimpressive start in Paris Saint-German, a Champions League trophy may just be the only major factor to make him a contender for the 2022 Ballon d’Or. One may want to consider his performance at the World Cup next year but that’s only if France Football waits until the end of the World Cup before they collect votes for the Ballon d’Or.

The era of Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi is gradually coming to an end. Young and promising players such as Kylan Mbappe and Erling Halaand are favourites to take up the baton and succeed Ronaldo and Messi.


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