Lionel Messi won a record-breaking seventh Ballon d’Or trophy last December, beating Robert Lewandowski in the vote organized by the prestigious French magazine France Football.
Messi, who scored at a non-stop rate for Barcelona during the first part of 2021 and also won the Copa America with Argentina in July, won 613 points, with Lewandowski at 580. Third-placed Jorginho stood at 460. Despite not impressing since he moved to PSG in August, Messi did enough to impress his voters and took home the most prestigious individual award in world football.
The bookies moved fast, as they have already published the odds for the 2022 edition of the accolade. Only seventh in 2021 with 121 points, Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah is the surprise favorite this year. Liverpool’s diamond man is at +400 to win his first Ballon at the end of the year. Robert Lewandowski is behind him at +500, while Messi is third at +700.
Kylian Mbappe, who was leading the race in 2021 before his early exit at Euro 2020 with France, comes fourth at +750. Mbappe could change clubs in the summer, as his deal with PSG runs out and Real Madrid has become more and more insistent to have him.
Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is only the sixth-favorite, at +1200, with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema at +1100. Borussia Dortmund’s sensation Erling Haaland, who will certainly star along with Mbappe in the transfer window at the end of the campaign, is eighth, at +1400.
Surprise winners can earn you a fortune
The bookmakers haven’t overlooked the chance that a surprise winner takes the world of football by storm in 2022. Leeds United’s Brazilian sensation Raphinha is at +25000, just like Real Sociedad’s Swedish striker Alexander Isak and Bayern Munich’s Canadian full-back Alphonso Davies.
Messi won the last two Ballon d’Or trophies that were awarded, in 2019 and 2021. The 2020 edition was canceled because of the COVID pandemic with the favorite, Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, being left empty-handed.
The outcome of the Champions League and Europa League will certainly be key performance indicators for the Ballon d’Or 2022 voters to consider, as will be the African Cup of Nations and the World Cup at the end of the year.