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5 players who could win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Messi and Ronaldo in 2022

Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the award since 2008 but the pair are in the latter stages of their career and someone else will have to step up next

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Can N’Golo Kante win a Ballon D’or?

Lionel Messi won a record-breaking seventh Ballon d’Or on Monday night, adding to his successes in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019.

Over the past decade, he has dominated the award with Cristiano Ronaldo, who has claimed five Ballon d’Or himself – 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017; theirs has been one of the most incredible footballing rivalries the world has ever seen.

Both still performing at the top of their games but Messi, 34, and Ronaldo, 36, are now very much in the latter stages of their career and such dominance must end at some point.

Luka Modric shocked the world by winning the prize in 2018, while Robert Lewandowski perhaps should have taken the title in 2020 – when the award wasn’t dished out.

We may well have seen the last Ballon d’Or won by either Messi or Ronaldo this year. Here are five players who could step up to the plate to next to win the most prestigious individual award in football.

Who do you think will be the next player to win a Ballon d’Or that isn’t Messi or Ronaldo? Have your say in the comments section below.

Robert Lewandowski

The Bayern Munich striker was expected to win the 2020 Ballon d’Or before it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, before he was once again the favourite to win it this year until he was pipped to the award by none other than Messi.

28 goals in his last 107 games in all competitions since the 2019-20 season has not gone unnoticed and despite being 33-years-old, he doesn’t show any sign of slowing down – 25 goals in 20 games this season backs that up.

If Lewandowski can replicate his goalscoring form over the next year, win more trophies with Bayern and even help Poland to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, then surely, you feel, it has to be third time lucky for the Pole.

Robert Lewandowski has been a firm favourite for the last two Ballon d’Or’s
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Image:

Getty Images)

N’Golo Kante

N’Golo Kante has been one of the best midfielders in the world for a while now and his efforts were recognised when he came 5th in Monday’s Ballon d’Or standings, helped by winning the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League and the 2021 UEFA Super Cup with Chelsea this year.

It has often been talked about how much more Kante needs to do to win a Ballon d’Or and it seems he keeps getting closer.

The only thing that works against the Frenchman is his lack of goals but if he can continue to produce world class performances and taste further success with Chelsea in 2021-22, who knows what can be achieved by this time next year.

Mohamed Salah

Another one who was hard done by with this year’s Ballon d’Or was Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah after he produced another year of fantastic displays and impressive goalscoring records in 2021.

And this season alone, in what is his fifth campaign at Anfield, it seems as though he is playing the best he ever has done and it is hard to argue that there is a more in-form player in the world right now, with 17 goals in 18 appearances in all competitions in 2021-22 so far.

Should Salah finish top of the Premier League goal scoring charts and win another trophy with Liverpool, along with enjoying African Cup of Nations success with Egypt next month and getting them to the Qatar World Cup, it would be incredibly hard to rule him out of the 2022 Ballon d’Or award.

Mohamed Salah has had an exceptional season for Liverpool so far

Kylian Mbappe

It’s been well documented that Kylian Mbappe is one of the most promising youngsters in world football for the past few years and has been tipped to take over from Messi and Ronaldo as the best player in the game.

At just 22, Mbappe has already dominated French football with Paris Saint-Germain and has also won the 2018 World Cup and the 2021 Nations League with France, but now he needs to go and win even more.

With Neymar and Messi in the same team at PSG, it will be hard for him to have all the limelight yet rumours of a move to Real Madrid won’t disappear and should that move happen, Mbappe could set himself up to become the next Ballon d’Or winner.

Kylian Mbappe was left disappointed with his 9th placed finish in this year’s Ballon d’Or

Erling Haaland

Just like Mbappe, Haaland has been tipped to become one of the best players of this generation and the pair have even been labelled as the next Messi and Ronaldo of the modern era.

Since moving to Dortmund in the January 2020 transfer window, Haaland has smashed goalscoring records and has netted a ridiculous 71 times in 70 appearances at the Bundesliga club – and he’s still only 21.

Haaland needs to start adding some club silverware to his own personal achievements but if he can continue to defy the odds with his conversion rate and become one of the deadliest strikers around, an achievement such as a Ballon d’Or won’t be too far away for the Norwegian.

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