Ballon d’Or 2022: How Champions League success impacts voting for France Football’s annual award
Does a player need to win the Champions League to win the men’s Ballon d’Or? It certainly helps, but it has not been the be all and end all since 2000. We dissect two lists that weigh up how influential success on the European stage can be when it comes to handing out France Football’s individual award.
Cristiano Ronaldo won the Champions League with Man Utd in 2008, the year he collected his first Ballon d'Or
Three of the top four contenders for this year’s Ballon d’Or remain in the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah will all be looking to reach the semi-finals with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool respectively, although Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain are already out.
The quartet lead the way with the bookmakers, but the odds will likely change before France Football hand out the award, this year determined by the 2021-22 campaign in its entirety as opposed to the calendar year.
Lionel Messi reacts after winning the Ballon d'Or France Football 2019
Image credit: Getty Images
The World Cup is naturally another factor, and was key to Ronaldo winning in 2002 and Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, while Messi’s Ballon d’Or wins in non-Champions League winning campaigns came after either a strong year in terms of goals (he scored a staggering 91 goals in 2012), or for 2021, Argentina’s Copa America triumph.
Ballon d’Or top 10 + Champions League winners
What is virtually a guarantee is that the Champions League winners will feature at least one player in the top 10:
2000: Real Madrid – 1 (Raul 9th)
2001: Bayern Munich – 1 (Kahn 3rd)
2002: Real Madrid – 3 (Carlos 2nd, Zidane 4th, Raul 7th)
2016: Real Madrid – 3 (Ronaldo 1st, Bale 6th, Pepe 9th)
2017: Real Madrid – 3 (Ronaldo 1st, Modric 5th, Ramos 6th)
2018: Real Madrid – 3 (Modric 1st, Ronaldo 2nd, Varane 7th)
2019: Liverpool – 4 (Van Dijk 2nd, Mane 4th, Salah 5th, Alisson 7th)
2020: Bayern Munich – N/A
2021: Chelsea – 2 (Jorginho 3rd, Kante 5th)
This has arguably become a bigger factor in recent years, with Liverpool’s tally of four players in 2019 only matched by Barcelona in 2009 and 2015 since 2000.
irgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker of Liverpool celebrate with the trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 01, 2019
Image credit: Getty Images
For three straight years from 2016 to 2018, Real Madrid had three in the top 10, which also highlights a trend of centre-backs emerging as contenders – Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, before Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk then pushed Messi close in 2019.
What does this tell us for 2022?
The jury is out, with the Champions League outcome as yet unknown, but it will certainly have a say on the Ballon d’Or voting.
If, say, Manchester City win the Champions League, Kevin De Bruyne could emerge as Ballon d’Or favourite, with Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Ederson, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez among the teammates who could break the top 10.
Likewise, if Liverpool win, Salah could become the favourite, and a similar outcome to 2019 could play out with Van Dijk, Alisson and Sadio Mane also breaking the top 10, and potentially Trent Alexander-Arnold too.
It is all hypothetical for now, but were Real Madrid to win then bets would be closed and Benzema a near-guarantee, likewise Bayern and Lewandowski, in what would be a reward for his past three years after one near-miss and a controversial decision to cancel the 2020 Ballon d’Or.