The French magazine ‘France Football’ unveiled the shortlist for the 2023 Ballon d’Or last night. Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland, who both secured spots on the list of 30 nominees, are leading the race for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
Messi, who clinched FIFA’s ‘Best’ trophy in February, also led Argentina to victory in the World Cup held in Qatar in December. However, his club season had its ups and downs. Despite being eliminated in the round of sixteen of the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) managed to secure the league title last season. On the other hand, Haaland enjoyed a stellar season at the club level, netting an impressive 52 goals in 53 matches for Manchester City. Furthermore, City achieved the remarkable feat of winning the ‘Treble,’ which included the Champions League, the English Premier League, and the FA Cup.
As expected, Manchester City dominates the shortlist with seven players, while Argentina leads among the national teams with a total of four representatives, including Messi. Notably, Messi, who has been named the Player of the Year seven times, missed out on the Ballon d’Or shortlist last time, marking his first absence since 2005.
Cristiano Ronaldo failed to secure a spot among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or award. This marks the first time in the last two decades that the Portuguese star has been excluded from the shortlist. The last time Ronaldo was not included in this list was during his debut season with Manchester United in 2003. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had consistently made the shortlist since 2004, up until the most recent edition of the Ballon d’Or.
Neymar, who followed in Ronaldo’s footsteps by joining the Saudi League club Al Hilal, also missed out on the shortlist of 30 nominees for the second consecutive year. However, Real Madrid’s Brazilian star, Vinicius, secured a place on the shortlist.
Lionel Messi, who departed from PSG in July and joined the American team Inter Miami, is considered Haaland’s primary competitor. The Norwegian star recently claimed the UEFA Player of the Year award. Other notable names on the shortlist include Kylian Mbappe and Kevin De Bruyne. Additionally, Karim Benzema, who moved to the Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad in July after a remarkable 14-year career with Real Madrid, has also been included.
In the women’s Ballon d’Or category, Spanish star Aitana Bonmati, who was shortlisted, is currently the frontrunner to win the award. In addition to helping Spain secure the Women’s World Cup, she was named the Player of the Tournament. Moreover, she contributed to Barcelona’s victory in the Champions League last season. The Spain women’s team is well-represented on the shortlist, with a total of six players making the cut. However, Alexis Pouteias, the two-time consecutive Ballon d’Or winner, did not secure a place on the 30-man shortlist due to injury woes. The winner of the Ballon d’Or will be announced in Paris on October 30th.