Karim Benzema was among the 30-man list of nominees for the 2022 Ballon d’Or award, which was announced by France Football on Friday, while seven-time winner Lionel Messi was omitted from the list for the first time since 2006.
Messi’s arch-rival, five-time winner Cristiano Ronald was included, as well as Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, French forward Kylian Mbappe, and Egyptian star Mohamed Salah.
However, another PSG star Neymar also missed out on the nomination which meant that Mbappe will be the sole player on the list coming from French Ligue 1.
Messi, who won the title last year, had been nominated 15 times in a row since 2006 (except for in 2020 when the award was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). The 35-year-old didn’t meet his own lofty standards in his first season at PSG, following his shocking move from Barcelona to the French capital last summer.
The Argentine star provided 14 assists in PSG’s way to a record-equaling tenth Ligue 1 title but scored only six goals in the league, far away from the high expectations from all sides.
Benzema, who helped Real Madrid to double championships in La Liga and Champions League, was undoubtedly the favorite for the prestigious award as the organizers announced some changes in March that the award will be given based on performances over the course of a regular football season, rather than a calendar year.
Other changes included a reduction of the number of voters as only the representatives from the top 100 countries and regions on the FIFA ranking (top-50 for the women’s award) were eligible to vote.
The award ceremony is scheduled for October 17 at Chatelet Theatre in Paris.
Following are the full list:
Real Madrid — Karim Benzema, Thibaut Courtois, Casemiro, Vinicius Junior, Antonio Rudiger, Luka Modric
Liverpool — Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz
Manchester City — Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva
Bayern Munich — Joshua Kimmich, Sadio Mane
Tottenham — Son Heung-min, Harry Kane
AC Milan — Rafael Leao, Mike Maignan
Manchester United — Cristiano Ronaldo
Juventus — Dusan Vlahovic
Barcelona — Robert Lewandowski,
Paris Saint-Germain — Kylian Mbappe
Dortmund — Sebastien Haller
RB Leipzig — Christopher Nkunku