·8 September 2023
·8 September 2023
France Football revealed their 30-player shortlist for the 2023 Ballon d'Or on Wednesday evening.
All the usual superstars made the cut. Oh, not you though, Cristiano Ronaldo. It's a new world.
But who will take that fabulous golden ball home? Who needs to clear more space on their mantelpiece?
Here are the 30 nominees and how we, the judgemental folk of 90min, would rank them.
Note: The Ballon d'Or is now awarded based on results and achievements from the 2022/23 season
Sorry, mate / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages
Club: Eintracht Frankfurt (transferred to Paris Saint-Germain in September)Country: FranceNotable achievements: 15 goals and 14 assists in 32 Bundesliga games; part of France's World Cup squad that reached finalFun fact: Can't be ruled out he was named after Steve Buscemi's character from Monsters IncRandal, I love your chaos. That's why it was so hard for me to put you dead last.
Onana left Inter after one season / Michael Steele/GettyImages
Club: Inter (transferred to Manchester United in July)Country: CameroonNotable achievements: 8 clean sheets during Inter's run to Champions League finalFun fact: Described as 'like a holding midfielder' in UEFA's Technical Observers' report for 2022/23 seasonAndre Onana's one season at Inter was memorable and so nearly ended in Champions League glory.Enjoy marshalling Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans, buddy.
The masked menace / Visionhaus/GettyImages
Club: RB Leipzig (transferred to Manchester City in August)Country: CroatiaNotable achievements: Key part of Croatia squad that won bronze at World CupFun fact: Decided against following father's footsteps of becoming a fisherman after just one journey out to seaWe can forgive Josko Gvardiol for being given the comical Roadrunner/Wile E Coyote runaround by Lionel Messi because, well, that's Lionel Messi.
A hero for club and country / Nicolò Campo/GettyImages
Club: Sevilla (transferred to Al Hilal in August)Country: MoroccaNotable achievements: Player of the Match in Europa League final; key part of Morocco squad that reached semi-finals of World CupFun fact: Was previously eligible to represent CanadaHold the fort, apparently Yassine 'Bono' Bounou is not the same guy from U2!Is this mic on?
Barella enjoyed another fine season / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages
Club: InterCountry: ItalyNotable achievements: Key part of Inter squad that reached Champions League final; won Coppa Italia and Supercoppa ItalianaFun fact: Avoided getting trapped in Wetherspoons by deciding against forcing a move to NewcastleThis is Nicolo Barella's second Ballon d'Or nomination. He was unfortunate to finish so far below *checks notes and takes a swig of neat whiskey* Jorginho last time.
Kim helped Napoli end their long Scudetto drought / Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages
Club: Napoli (transferred to Bayern Munich in August)Country: South KoreaNotable achievements: Key part of Napoli squad that won Serie AFun fact: The most expensive Asian player of all time by a considerable distance (£50m to £30m)Imagine if Tottenham Hotspur coughed up the extra £3m it would have taken to sign Kim Min-jae back in 2020. What a strange world that would have been.
No I'm not using the other picture / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages
Club: Aston VillaCountry: ArgentinaNotable achievements: Key part of Argentina squad that won World CupFun fact: Real name is Damian thanks to a post office errorEmi Martinez probably owes Neal Maupay a beer or two for trying to mercilessly assassinate Bernd Leno.
Salah maintained his level / George Wood/GettyImages
Club: LiverpoolCountry: EgyptNotable achievements: 30 goals and 16 assists in 51 club gamesFun fact: Over a million people are believed to have voted for Salah in Egypt's presidential elections in 2018Liverpool may have been subpar last season, but that wasn't due to Mohamed Salah dropping the ball.
History-maker / Clive Rose/GettyImages
Club: Tottenham Hotspur (transferred to Bayern Munich in August)Country: EnglandNotable achievements: 30 goals in 38 Premier League gamesFun fact: Lining up career in the NFL once his football days are overHarry Kane's last season for Tottenham saw him drag their sorry arses through the mud while scoring 30 goals in the Premier League alone. He deserved that Bayern Munich move.
Don't look too happy, mate / Soccrates Images/GettyImages
Club: Real MadridCountry: CroatiaNotable achievements: Key part of Croatia squad that won bronze at World Cup; won Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World CupFun fact: One of only three nominees to have previously won the Ballon d'OrThere's a passing-of-the-torch occurring at Real Madrid right now, but Luka Modric was still brilliant last season.
Saka is making a name for club and country / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages
Club: ArsenalCountry: EnglandNotable achievements: 14 goals and 11 assists in 38 Premier League games; PFA Young Player of the YearFun fact: Achieved four A*s and three As in his GCSEs, though he probably won't need to use those qualifications againBukayo Saka could probably retire tomorrow and he'd be a generation's favourite Arsenal player into the next decade anyway.
Another trophy for Vini / Fran Santiago/GettyImages
Club: Real MadridCountry: BrazilNotable achievements: Won Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup; 23 goals and 11 assists in 55 club gamesFun fact: His favourite film is Karate KidOn this trajectory (and with the new burden of scoring in a central role), Vinicius Junior could challenge for the Ballon d'Or for years to come.
Bellingham was a Dortmund collapse away from the Bundesliga title / Alex Grimm/GettyImages
Club: Borussia Dortmund (transferred to Real Madrid in July)Country: EnglandNotable achievements: 14 goals and 8 assists in 42 club gamesFun fact: Birmingham City still have his former 22 shirt retired and there's little to suggest that'll changeThe 90min slack chat determined that recency bias will probably help Jude Bellingham's case.
Benzema signed off from Real Madrid with more silverware / CRISTINA QUICLER/GettyImages
Club: Real Madrid (transferred to Al Ittihad in June)Country: FranceNotable achievements: 31 goals in 43 club games; won Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World CupFun fact: Once described by MARCA as 'the new Anelka' as an insultRemember that week where Karim Benzema said he was leaving Real Madrid, then staying, then leaving again? What was that about?
Alvarez has won roughly 92 trophies in his career / Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages
Club: Manchester CityCountry: ArgentinaNotable achievements: Key part of Argentina squad that won World Cup; won Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League with Manchester CityFun fact: Helped Real Madrid win a youth tournament while on trial aged 11If the Ballon d'Or was solely about a Venn diagram of winning, Julian Alvarez would top these rankings. Sadly for him, there's more nuance to it.
Odegaard became Arsenal captain last season / Stu Forster/GettyImages
Club: ArsenalCountry: NorwayNotable achievements: 15 goals and 8 assists in 37 Premier League gamesFun fact: His dad had to give permission for Football Manager to use his likeness in the game as a 15-year-old wonderkidThe notable achievements line may be short, but make no mistake - Martin Odegaard was one of the very best players anywhere in football last season.
Griezmann has reinvented himself / Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/GettyImages
Club: Atletico MadridCountry: FranceNotable achievements: 15 goals and 17 assists in 38 La Liga games; key part of France squad that reached World Cup finalFun fact: Has a dance move named after him in FranceWho foresaw Antoine Griezmann's late-career renaissance? Don't say you did. You definitely didn't, you liar.
Martinez ironically was largely poor during the World Cup / Visionhaus/GettyImages
Club: InterCountry: ArgentinaNotable achievements: Won World Cup with Argentina; key part of Inter squad that reached Champions League final; 28 goals and 11 assists in 57 club gamesFun fact: Made his league debut for Racing Club in place of Inter legend Diego MilitoWhy Lautaro Martinez played like he plied his trade in the National League South during the World Cup will remain a mystery to all. At least Argentina won the thing.
Silva got his hands on three trophies / Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages
Club: Manchester CityCountry: PortugalNotable achievements: Key part of Manchester City squad that won Premier League, FA Cup and Champions LeagueFun fact: Has a pet bulldog named John StonesThe main reason Bernardo Silva isn't higher in this list is I specifically remember a two-month stretch where Riyad Mahrez was the right winger playing like Diego Maradona instead.
Musiala won Bayern the title / BSR Agency/GettyImages
Club: Bayern MunichCountry: GermanyNotable achievements: Key part of Bayern Munich squad that won Bundesliga; scored title-winning goal in final minutes of season; 12 goals and 13 assists in 33 Bundesliga gamesFun fact: Spent one year in Southampton's academyThis was the most contentious ranking among the 90min crew, so I myself will take responsibility for how high Jamal Musiala finished. Racking up those numbers in such a wild Bayern Munich team before saving them from oblivion in the last minutes of the season? Show him some damn respect.
For the avoidance of doubt, this is not La Liga's trophy / Eric Alonso/GettyImages
Club: BarcelonaCountry: PolandNotable achievements: Key part of Barcelona squad that won La Liga and Spanish Super Cup; top scorer in La Liga; 33 goals and 8 assists in 46 club gamesFun fact: Can thank an Icelandic volcanic eruption for not ending up at Blackburn RoversWell, Robert Lewandowski went toe-to-toe with Benzema in La Liga and won. Can't really knock it.
A Georgian icon / Nicolò Campo/GettyImages
Club: NapoliCountry: GeorgiaNotable achievements: Key part of Napoli squad that won Serie A; 14 goals and 17 assists in 43 club gamesFun fact: Napoli fans have started to name their babies after himKhvicha Kvaratskhelia is probably the best footballer of all time whose name is mispronounced by 99% of the population.
Dias has won it all with Manchester City / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages
Club: Manchester CityCountry: PortugalNotable achievements: Key part of Man City squad that won Premier League, FA Cup and Champions LeagueFun fact: Only became a defender because he switched positions at Benfica while the team was losingManchester City's formidable attack has taken attention away from just how good Ruben Dias has become nowadays. World's smallest violin, but still.
Gundogan has since departed Man City / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages
Club: Manchester City (transferred to Barcelona in July)Country: GermanyNotable achievements: Key part of Manchester City squad that won Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League; scored winning brace in FA Cup finalFun fact: Cousin to Turkish volleyball star Naz AydemirFew players have improved their long-term reputation with such a flurry of unexpected goals than Ilkay Gundogan over recent years.
Iconic / Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages
Club: NapoliCountry: NigeriaNotable achievements: Key part of Napoli squad that won Serie A; top scorer in Serie A; 31 goals and 5 assists in 39 club gamesFun fact: First African to win the CapocannoniereWith Barcelona's Asisat Oshoala nominated for the Ballon d'Or Feminin, Nigeria can boast becoming the first African nation to have a player on both shortlists in the same year.
Rodri's standing in the game continues to rise / Michael Regan/GettyImages
Club: Manchester CityCountry: SpainNotable achievements: Key part of Manchester City squad that won Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League; scored winning goal in Champions League finalFun fact: Bonded closely with Lucas and Theo Hernandez to the point they were like family as childrenThe trolls of Twitter used to nickname him 'Plodri'. It's long been retired.
At long last / Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages
Club: Manchester CityCountry: BelgiumNotable achievements: Key part of Manchester City squad that won Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League; 10 goals and 31 assists in 39 club games; Premier League Playmaker awardFun fact: Was eligible to play for Burundi before choosing BelgiumThe downside of Kevin De Bruyne playing behind a super clinical striker is that it takes the attention further away from him. What a scam.
That's not the Ballon d'Or but it is pretty / BERTRAND GUAY/GettyImages
Club: Paris Saint-GermainCountry: FranceNotable achievements: Key part of France squad that reached World Cup final; World Cup Golden Boot; key part of Paris Saint-Germain squad that won Ligue 1; top scorer in Ligue 1; 41 goals and 10 assists in 43 club gamesFun fact: Fluent in English and Spanish despite never living in those countries (go wild, Liverpool and Real Madrid fans)A quick office poll this week saw around 80% vote Kylian Mbappe as the best player in the world. Unfortunately for him, that's not the be-all-and-end-all of this award.
Haaland couldn't stop scoring / Visionhaus/GettyImages
Club: Manchester CityCountry: NorwayNotable achievements: Key part of Manchester City squad that won Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League; winner of Premier League Player, Premier League Young Player, FWA Footballer and PFA Players' Player of the Year awards; top scorer in Premier League; winner of European Golden Shoe; 52 goals and 9 assists in 53 club gamesFun fact: Sets the Champions League anthem as his alarmIf Erling Haaland wins the Ballon d'Or, it won't be undeserved. There's just a small thing (man) standing in his way.
Simply the best / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages
Club: Paris Saint-Germain (transferred to Inter Miami in July)Country: ArgentinaNotable achievements: Key part of Argentina squad that won World Cup; World Cup Golden Ball; scored brace in World Cup final; key part of Paris Saint-Germain squad that won Ligue 1; 21 goals and 20 assists in 41 club gamesFun fact: Everything there is to know about him is out in the open, what do you want from me?Based on PSG's flame-out season, Lionel Messi doesn't deserve to win the Ballon d'Or. But hey, the World Cup.
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