Final Ballon d’Or 2023 Rankings As Messi, Haaland Lead Nominees

Final Ballon d’Or 2023 Rankings As Messi, Haaland Lead Nominees

Martin Moses
September 7, 2023 at 7:13 AM
  • Lionel Messi is set to battle it out with Erling Haaland for the 2023 edition of the Ballon d'Or award
  • Messi's World Cup win with Argentina last year gave him the lead over other possible competitors
  • The 30 award nominees were revealed on September 6 ahead of the final ceremony on October 30

It is now official. After one year out in the cold, Lionel Messi has been nominated to vie for the 2023 Ballon d'Or award.

The nominees were revealed on September 6, with Messi headlining the list of 30 footballers who shone and exceeded expectations last season.

Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, World Cup, Manchester City, Ballon d'Or, Champions League
Lionel Messi lifts the World Cup trophy on December 18. Photo by Julian Finney.
Source: Getty Images

The Argentine won his country's first World Cup since 1986, scooping the player of the tournament in the process.

The fact that the tournament was held in the middle of a season - the first time this has happened - makes the 2023 race even more interesting.

There is no denying the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League will play a crucial role in determining who will win the most lucrative individual award in football.

Sports Brief takes a look at how the voting could possibly go in October.

7. Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City/Barcelona/Germany)

Should we call him Mr. Clutch instead? Gundogan's late bloom to help Manchester City win the Premier League and the FA Cup in his first season as captain has seen his odds rise immensely.

He is definitely bettered by Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland in his former team, but his 13 goals and seven assists - especially towards the end of the season - cannot go unmentioned. He joins only a few captains to have captained their sides to winning a treble.

6. Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid/Brazil)

It is a good thing the Ballon d'Or award does not account for only the kind of trophies won, but also individual performances as well. The Real Madrid goal machine finished the season with the Copa Del Rey, the Club World Club, and the UEFA Super Cup.

He is the only player in Europe's top five leagues to have scored at least 20 goals (24) and provided at least 20 assists (25) in all competitions, bar Messi.

5. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain/France)

If Messi will dominate this debate because of the World Cup, then his former teammate at Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian Mbappe, also deserves a shout - and with good reason.

Despite a historic performance that saw him grab a hat-trick, he was unlucky not to win the 2022 World Cup with France in the final on December 18. He missed out on the trophy but won the Golden Boot.

Mbappe also scored 53 goals and provided 14 assists last season in all competitions, on top of winning Ligue 1.

4. Rodri (Manchester City/Spain)

One could argue the Spanish midfielder deserves to be higher on the list and you would be inclined to agree. He was Man City's 'Mr Dependable' in their record-breaking run, popping up with crucial goals at crucial moments, none greater than the UCL-winning goal.

The 27-year-old won the Champions League Player of the Season award as well. He did not achieve much success at the World Cup but atoned for that by winning the UEFA Nations League in June.

3. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City/Belgium)

The Belgian heartbreakingly limped off in the UCL final - the second such time he has been forced off injured in the final game of that tournament.

However, he was as instrumental as Haaland in defining City's season, despite being off-colour in a couple of games last season. The 31-year-old remains the most elite playmaker in Europe, having provided 32 assists in all competitions.

2. Erling Haaland (Manchester City/Norway)

Between the Champions League and the World Cup, the latter understandably carries more weight. However, the Man City striker closed the gap on the serial winner Messi in the second part of the 2022/2023 season.

The 23-year-old might have been silent in the UCL and FA Cup final, but his 53 goals across all competitions helped the Citizens complete the historic treble, with the crowning moment coming in Turkey on June 10.

The last time a player from the Premier League won the Ballon d'Or was Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008, after success in the UCL with Manchester United - an occurrence Haaland replicated with Man City.

Has the Norwegian done enough to win his first title at 23 years of age? Time will tell but at the moment, we have him in second place.

1. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain/Inter Miami/Argentina)

Captaining his country, starring at the World Cup at 35 years old, and finally winning the trophy that eluded him in his illustrious career saw Messi complete a romantic football moment.

After the Qatar triumph, it looked like he was a stroll for his record eighth Ballon d'Or title, only for Haaland's heroics in that Man City superteam to turn a solid argument into a divisive debate.

Apart from the World Cup, the Argentine has also scored 38 times and provided 25 assists in all competitions.

Full list of Ballon d'Or 2023 nominees

  • Andre Onana
  • Josko Gvardiol
  • Karim Benzema
  • Jamal Musiala
  • Mohamed Salah
  • Jude Bellingham
  • Bukayo Saka
  • Randal Kolo Muani
  • Kevin De Bruyne
  • Bernardo Silva
  • Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
  • Emiliano Martinez
  • Ruben Dias
  • Erling Haaland
  • Nicolo Barella
  • Martin Odegaard
  • Ilkay Gundogan
  • Vinicius Junior
  • Yassine Bounou
  • Julian Alvarez
  • Robert Lewandowski
  • Rodri
  • Antoine Griezmann
  • Lionel Messi
  • Lautaro Martinez
  • Kim Min-Jae
  • Luka Modric
  • Kylian Mbappe
  • Victor Osimhen
  • Harry Kane.

Why Messi will beat Haaland to 2023 Ballon d'Or

The 2023 Ballon d'Or debate got into full swing following the conclusion of the European season after the Champions League final on June 10.

The World Cup trophy is undoubtedly the most important trophy in football, with Messi winning it on a fifth attempt after many years of disappointment.

Sports Brief previously toook a look at why Messi will beat Haaland to the 2023 edition of the coveted individual award despite the Norwegian's stats.

History's biggest Ballon d'Or 'robberies'

Sports Brief also reported on the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in the 'weird' month of December, sparking unprecedented debate ahead of the 2023 Ballon d'Or race.

The World Cup is often a strong indicator of who will win, with Messi believed to be leading the race for the coveted gong, yet Haaland has since immersed himself in the debate.

There is no doubt the 2023 race to the top individual prize in football will be a heated one, but what are some of the most controversial Ballon d'Or decisions in awards history?

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Editor- EPL I Serie A
Erling HaalandLionel MessiKevin De Bruyne