Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi paid a high price for an underwhelming first season with Paris Saint-Germain when he was left off the 30-strong list for this year’s coveted football award. Lucy Bronze, who was runner-up in 2019, is one of three members of England’s Euro-winning squad to be short-listed for the women’s award. Messi, who won the title last year, had been an ever-present amongst the nominations since 2006 and a regular feature in the top three since 2007 with the exception of 2018.
In total, Messi scored only 11 goals for PSG with his relatively indifferent club form failing to impress France Football magazine, the organisers of the Ballon d’Or which will be awarded in Paris on October 17. French international striker Karim Benzema is the overwhelming favourite after being the architect of Real Madrid’s 14th Champions League title. He finished the European campaign with 15 goals.
Benzema is likely to become the fifth French winner after Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinedine Zidane (1998). In the 2021/2022 season, Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 appearances for a Madrid side who also won the Liga title. His goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the European Super Cup took the 34-year-old to 324 goals for the Spanish giants. That edged him ahead of Raul in the club’s all-time list with only Cristiano Ronaldo in front of him with 450.