Five players who could realistically win the Men’s Ballon d’Or 2023

The nominees for the 2023 Men’s Ballon d’Or have been released, with 30 players shortlisted. The trophy is presented to the best player of the year voted by 100 journalists from FIFA’s 100 top-ranked member nations.

We name five stars who we think stand a realistic chance of winning this year’s award…

Erling Haaland

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Erling Haaland has had a stunning year. Manchester City won the treble in a season where the Norwegian scored an incredible 52 goals. On his debut campaign, he scored 36 goals in the Premier League, earning himself the golden boot.

Last season, Haaland bagged himself six hat-tricks in all competitions, and his form has not dropped going into the new season. He has six goals in six appearances in 2023/24 – scoring his first hat-trick of the season in a 5-1 win against Fulham. At the age of 23, Haaland is one of the world’s best talents. Having won almost everything with Manchester City, it seems only a matter of time before he gets his hands on a first Ballon d’Or.

Kylian Mbappe

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It was another impressive year for Kylian Mbappe. The 24-year-old scored 41 goals in all competitions, and led France to the World Cup final where they were beaten by Argentina on penalties. Mbappe scored eight goals in Qatar, taking his total to 12 World Cup goals in his remarkable young career. He was the youngest player to ever be nominated for the Ballon d’Or in 2017 at the age of just 18.

Mbappe will have stiff competition this year, but has yet again illustrated he is one of the world’s best. He has started the new Ligue 1 season on fire by scoring five goals in three matches for PSG and is more than worthy of another nomination.

Lionel Messi

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Since Lionel Messi last won the Ballon D’Or in 2021, he has gone on to acclaim his biggest achievement of his glittering career. Winning the 2022 World Cup with Argentina felt like a satisfying conclusion to what has been an incredible career.

Messi dragged Argentina back to their feet after losing their opening game to Saudi Arabia. He responded with some outstanding individual performances as they went on to win a third World Cup for Argentina. For that alone, he should be in with a shot of collecting his eighth Ballon d’Or.

His new venture with Inter Miami has started with a bang, scoring eleven goals in the USA. Messi also scored 32 goals and assisted 25 times in the 2022/23 season and is likely the favourite to win the award.

Kevin De Bruyne

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Kevin De Bruyne was another player involved in Manchester City’s brilliant treble winning season. The Belgium international assisted 31 times in all competitions last season, with 25 of those coming across the Premier League and Champions League. De Bruyne had the misfortune of picking up an injury in City’s Champions League final win which was made worse when he was hit with the same bad luck again in August. He is currently sidelined with a similar hamstring injury.

Without his creativity, Guardiola’s men would not have been able to hit the heights they did last season. The Ballon d’Or was last awarded to a midfielder in 2018 when Luka Modric was voted the winner. De Bruyne may not be the favourite, but he is a worthy contender.

Jude Bellingham

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What a year it has been for 20-year-old Jude Bellingham. The boy from Birmingham played and scored in his first World Cup for England and to add to that, he secured a move to Real Madrid in the summer for €103m. His start in Spain could not have gone any better, scoring five goals and assisting once in Real Madrid’s opening five games.

In 2022/23 he was a shining star for Borussia Dortmund. At the age of 19 he played 42 times in all competitions, scoring 14 goals and racking up seven assists. He is fast becoming one of the best midfielders in the world. It may be a little too soon for a Ballon d’Or, but Bellingham will no doubt be in the picture for years to come.

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