Ballon d’Or 2024: Haaland Drops, Bellingham Leads Race to Dethrone Record Winner Messi

Ballon d’Or 2024: Haaland Drops, Bellingham Leads Race to Dethrone Record Winner Messi

Martin Moses
updated at April 22, 2024 at 6:19 AM
  • Erling Haaland's Ballon d'Or 2024 chances took a significant hit on April 17
  • Manchester City were knocked out in the UCL quarter-final by Real Madrid
  • Sports Brief rates the top five candidates for the award ahead of the semis

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The 2024 Ballon d'Or race has started in earnest as the quest to succeed Lionel Messi takes shape. Now in the MLS, it is highly unlikely that the record winner will be considered for the award again.

The UEFA Champions League, which is often seen as a big decider in such votes, had many intriguing twists as PSG, Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich advanced to the last four.

Jude Bellingham, Erling Haaland, 2024 Ballon d'Or, Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane, Phil Foden, PSG vs Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid vs Manchester City
Real Madrid players celebrate after beating Manchester City on April 17, 2024, to qualify for the Champions League semi-final. Photo by Marc Atkins.
Source: Getty Images

This year's Ballon d'Or race will be intriguing because, in addition to the main club competitions, players will chase glory at continental tournaments later in the summer.

The Euro Championships in Germany and the Copa America in the United States are set to have a huge bearing on who will win the award at the big gala event later this year.

With that in mind, Sports Brief takes a look at how the vote could go if the gala was held today.

Updated 2024 Ballon d'Or rankings

5. Erling Haaland - Manchester City and Norway

The Norwegian came agonisingly close to beating Messi to last year's crown. His 52 goals in his debut season, plus the treble, however, couldn't help him displace the Argentine.

This year, he is starting at a disadvantage, given that Norway didn't qualify for the summer championships. To make it worse, Manchester City's elimination from the Champions League has significantly dwarfed his chances.

He might still be topping goal-scoring charts, but Roy Keane's 'League Two' comments will also linger in the minds of fans and jurors.

4. Phil Foden - Manchester City and England

The 'Stockport Iniesta' has been the face of Manchester City this season during the prolonged absence of Kevin De Bruyne in the first part of the season.

His 14 goals and seven assists have helped the Citizens rise to the top of the table as they gun for a record fourth consecutive title. The Champions League might be gone, but if Foden can bag the double and star in Gareth Southgate's squad in Germany, he might be in business.

3. Kylian Mbappe - PSG and France

Mbappe has long been touted as the apparent heir to the gap left behind by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. After the first leg against Barcelona, it looked like his dream to win PSG's maiden Champions League title was over.

However, an inspired performance in Spain, aided by an early Ronald Araujo red card, took him 270 minutes away from a first title. His brace at the Montjuic took his goal tally to 47.

Mbappe is also in pole position to guide France's star-studded to Euro glory in July.

2. Harry Kane - Bayern Munich and England

It was a tough call to place Kane and Mbappe, but the former gets the nod due to the ridiculous amount of goals he has scored in Germany despite a Bundesliga heartbreak.

The English striker's pursuit of the first trophy of his career, however, remained alive after Bayern Munich knocked out Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League semi-final.

The 30-year-old is the top scorer in Europe's top leagues. If he can keep the same trajectory going, get the Champions League and captain England to Euro glory, he might just lay his hand on the biggest individual award yet.

1. Jude Bellingham - Real Madrid and England

His meteoric start to life in Spain left little doubt that the hype he was getting in Germany was worth it. The English international scored game in, game out for Los Blancos, taking immediate command of the Pichichi race.

For a midfielder, that's impressive - no two ways about it.

With Real Madrid gunning for a record-extending 15th title, Bellingham is now in pole position to win his first Ballon d'Or when he turns 21. That he is the second person on Southgate's team list after Kane also goes without mentioning.

Other honourable mentions

Vinicius Junior is also in the running, but Bellingham has usurped him this season as the new poster boy for the boys in white. Given that he will finish the season with the same club trophies as his teammate, it will take a lot to displace him. Brazil have been shaky in recent games but don't put the Copa America beyond them.

Xabi Alonso might be hogging all the headlines of Bayer Leverkusen's imperious season, but the former midfield maestro is thankful for a couple of players in his squad. Top of the list has to be Florian Wirtz, who has been the face of the attack. With over 30 goal involvements already, a potential treble, and a Euro Championship on home soil to come, don't sleep on the 20-year-old.

Lautaro Martinez might have missed a decisive penalty in the Champions League Round of 16 but his goal-scoring heroics in Italy shouldn't go under the radar. The Argentine (potential Copa America?) has 23 goals in Serie A alone - eight more than the nearest challenger.

Other outside candidates include Bukayo Saka, Mohamed Salah, and Rodri.

Change in Ballon d'Or rules

Sports Brief has previously reported that the Ballon d'Or rules were changed in 2021, just after Messi had won his record seventh title.

The award switched to a season-based format rather than the calendar year and the vote was reduced to the top 100 FIFA-ranked nations.

That means the winners of the year's award will be judged on their performance when the season started to after the summer's contests.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)