Benzema Joins Ballon d’Or Winners List – But Who Will Win In 2023?
Karim Benzema fulfilled a lifelong dream when his name was written into the history books as he joined the elite list of Ballon d’Or winners. The Real Madrid striker claimed the title in October 2022, topping the charts over some illustrious opponents.
Benzema beat former Liverpool player Sadio Mané and Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne to the top honour. After really coming into his own at Real Madrid, the French star has now claimed the top individual honour in the world.
The year could still get even better for him.
Ballon d’Or Winners – Karim Benzema Joins The List
There was a sense of inevitably about the 2022 Ballon d’Or win for Karim Benzema. But you never know because the award can produce strange results. It boils down to it being a matter of subjectivity and the whim of the individuals voting.
The Ballon d’Or, which is organised by the magazine France Football, takes votes from journalists, along with coaches and captains of national teams.
It’s a global award, meaning that a player anywhere in the world can get nominated. But the award has been Eurocentric throughout its history. It’s commonly handed over to a player from one of Europe’s Big 5 leagues.
Certainly, more recent editions of the award saw annual battles between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. That was during their respective times with La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. So the awarded end up in Spain most of the time.
That is where the latest edition of the title has gone as well. Karim Benzema’s astonishing output in front of goal during 2022 helped lift Real Madrid to a La Liga and UEFA Champions League double.
The Great Underrated Talent
Because he spent so many years playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid, Benzema’s input and output were largely underrated during that time. While he couldn’t match the huge scoring threat of CR7 at the Bernabéu, Benzema has never been a goal-shy striker.
Like all forwards, there are a couple of seasons where he didn’t produce as highly. Like the 2012/13 and 2017/18 La Liga campaigns. But Benzema’s numbers got consistently better since Ronaldo moved to Serie A side Juventus for his new challenge in the summer of 2018.
Benzema scored 21 league goals in 36 appearances the following season. He would go on to break the 20-goal mark in each of his four following seasons, becoming one of Europe’s most prolific forwards. Benzema is now front and centre, the pivotal man in Real Madrid’s attack and he has lived up to the billing with some aplomb.
Can International Success Follow for Benzema?
Karim Benzema has won four league titles with Real Madrid, and five UEFA Champions League titles. With other silverware from domestic cups and the likes of the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, his trophy cabinet must be bursting at the seams.
But the biggest pieces of international silverware have eluded him. Despite being a player of such a high calibre, his time with France has seen him miss out on some huge opportunities. Benzema was excluded from France’s Euro 2016 squad after a block by the country’s football federation (FFF). They wanted him kept from the squad because of the Benzema blackmail allegation investigations that were ongoing at the time.
Karim Benzema was also left out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup by Les Bleus. The player took to social media to announce his distaste that the FFF’s decision to keep him out of the national set-up. The decision would have hurt him further as he had to watch on from the affair as France won the 2018 World Cup.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that Benzema made his international return for the first time since 2015. He was included in their Euro 2020 squad (the tournament having been delayed from the previous year), but France’s campaign ended early as they lost a penalty shoot-out against Switzerland in the Round of 16.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will give him a chance to add another major piece of silverware.
The Next On the Ballon d’Or Winners List
Karim Benzema finally got his breakthrough in landing the Ballon d’Or. Who knows, he could be back in the picture for the 2023 edition as well if the current form sticks throughout the next calendar year.
Real Madrid are the favourites for the 2022/23 La Liga title and are one of the big threats again in the UEFA Champions League. So there will be plenty of further opportunities for goals and silverware that could lift Benzema to another individual honour.
Plus, four of the last six Ballon d’Or winners have been Real Madrid players. So it’s not totally out of the picture that Benzema, now easily regarded as one of the top players of his generation, could get it again.
But what about some other potential 2023 Ballon d’Or Winners?
Ballon d’Or Winners Since 2000
2001 – Luis Figo, Real Madrid
2001 – Michael Owen, Liverpool
2002 – Ronaldo, Real Madrid
2003 – Pavel Nedvěd, Juventus
2004 – Andriy Shevchenko, Milan
2005 – Ronaldinho, Barcelona
2006 – Fabio Cannavaro, Real Madrid
2007 – Kaká, Milan
2008 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
2009 – Lionel Messi, Barcelona
2010 – Lionel Messi, Barcelona
2011 – Lionel Messi, Barcelona
2012 – Lionel Messi, Barcelona
2013 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
2014 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
2015 – Lionel Messi, Barcelona
2016 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
2017 – Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
2018 – Luka Modrić, Real Madrid
2019 – Lionel Messi Barcelona
2020 – Not Held
2021 – Lionel Messi, PSG
2022 – Karim Benzema, Real Madrid
Potential 2023 Ballon d’Or Winners
We imagine that Benzema will be a 2023 Ballon d’Or contender. But who are likely to be his big challengers? The 2022 Ballon d’Or Award was given to the best player from the 2021/22 season. That was a huge shift because it was the first time that the award wasn’t credited for performance over a calendar year.
Also, our 2023 Ballon d’Or Winners list is excluding defenders and goalkeepers. There’s a general bias against them when it comes to the Ballon d’Or. But certainly, Thibaut Courtois would be in the running if it wasn’t. Lev Yashin was the last goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or back in 1963. The last defender to win the individual crown was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006.
Neymar would do his credentials of finally becoming a Ballon d’Or winner no harm with a 2022 World Cup win. Brazil are favourites to succeed at Qatar 2022 and their talisman Neymar will be leading the line for them. A World Cup crown would give him a huge early boost in the running.
Given that Neymar has had a superb start to the new Ligue 1 domestic season with PSG, he is likely to be in the thick of it. The Brazilian has two previous third-place finishes in the Ballon d’Or, which came at the height of the Ronaldo/Messi dominance. A Champions League title would go a long way too.
Neymar’s PSG teammate Lionel Messi can never be counted out of the running for a Ballon d’Or title. He’s won it seven times before, most recently in 2021 when many fans and punters were left a little shocked by the result.
The final season of Messi’s Barcelona career wasn’t filled with silver. The Little Genius took a while to settle in at his new club PSG as well. But somehow he still managed to get the 2021 Ballon d’Or title ahead of Robert Lewandowski.
At the time with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, Lewandowski had a prolific season in front of goal. But he was beaten out by Messi. Messi is the all-time Ballon d’Or leader, two ahead now of his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi has had a better start to the 2022/23 domestic campaign with PSG, who should be serious UEFA Champions League contenders too. Argentina are also expected to have a big shout at Qatar 2022.
It surely is only a matter of time before the goal-machine that is Erling Haaland joins the Ballon d’Or winners list. His move from Borussia Dortmund to Premier League champions Manchester City went seamlessly.
Haaland was rattling off hat tricks left, right and centre in the early stages of the 2022/23 season. The arrival of the Norwegian striker at the Etihad signals a move of big intent by the Citizens. If he becomes the missing piece that finally gets Manchester City the UEFA Champions League title, on top of another Premier League crown, Haaland should get a few votes.
Haaland will be missing from the World Cup however with Norway failing to qualify. That gives his rivals a potential advantage.
Will Mbappe stay at PSG? Will he be heading to Real Madrid? That remains a saga to still be settled, but Kylian Mbappe has to be a big player in the 2023 Ballon d’Or race. While things don’t appear to be perfectly settled for him in Paris at the moment, he is scoring and is still such a huge impact player.
There’s also France’s World Cup title defence to put into the hat as well. If Les Bleus can secure that with the help of the Mbappe and Benzema combo, then that will put the two French superstars heavily in the picture.
Mbappé will likely be a Golden Boot winner in Ligue 1 and if he could deliver the World Cup Golden Boot too, he might be hard to reel in.
Kevin De Bruyne
Manchester City superstar Kevin de Bruyne was on the 2022 Ballon d’Or list. He made it to the podium in third place He’s one of the best midfielders in the world and he wouldn’t be totally out of the running if Man City have the season they are expected to have.
City are Premier League and UEFA Champions League favourites. Domestic cups could come into play too. De Bruyne will be at the heart of Belgium’s 2022 World Cup bid as well.
But really what could be the driving force behind De Bruyne’s Ballon d’Or bid is having Erling Haaland around to finish all the chances that he creates. De Bruyne’s already impressive stats could go through the roof this season.