Lionel Messi was crowned the 2023 Ballon d’Or winner on the 30th of October, 2023, mainly due to his efforts in helping Argentina win the World Cup in 2022. That trophy was the only real silverware the Argentine GOAT had not managed to win and his eighth Ballon d’Or was inevitable, also having a degree of emotional motivation and serving a little like a lifetime achievement award.
That is because, with the former Barcelona man now playing in America, he is unlikely to challenge for the Golden Ball again. Moreover, we have seen a steady changing of the guard over the past few years as he and Cristiano Ronaldo have come to the end of their best years. The Portuguese ace, now playing in Saudi Arabia, was not even nominated in 2023 and there is every chance that Messi will not make the list in 2024.
With the emergence of stars like Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappé, Vinicius Junior and now Jude Bellingham, it is safe to say the future of football looks very safe and very strong. It would take a miracle for any of those players to get close to Ronaldo’s five Ballon d’Or wins, let alone Messi’s eight. However, it would take a brave punter to back against that quartet claiming at least a few wins between them. Indeed, there is every chance that one of them may land the biggest individual prize in the game in 2024. But who will it be? And aside from them, who else is in the running?
Contenders for the 2024 Ballon d’Or
In 2023 Haaland and Mbappé were second and third, respectively, behind Messi. Next were Man City duo Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri, with Vini Jr sixth. Bellingham was down in 18th, though he did land the prestigious Kopa Trophy, awarded as part of the Ballon d’Or awards night to recognise the best under-21 in the world. Mbappé, Haaland and Vinicius Junior all made the top 10 in 2022 and indeed the French forward has reached that level every season since coming seventh in 2017.
If the bookies are to be believed – and they usually should be – then there is a very strong chance that Bellingham, Mbappé or Haaland will be celebrating around this time next year. They are priced at odds of 3/1, 4/1 and 9/2, respectively. A list of the leading contenders and their current odds can be seen below:
- Bellingham – 3/1
- Mbappé – 4/1
- Haaland – 9/2
- Harry Kane – 6/1
- Messi – 7/1
- Rodri – 12/1
- Vinicius – 20/1
- Kevin De Bruyne – 20/1
- Mo Salah – 25/1
- Ronaldo – 25/1
What Are the Dates for the 2024 Award?
It is very important to be aware of the dates the 2024 award relates to when trying to predict who will win. The next Ballon d’Or will be voted for based on the strength of performances between the 1st of August, 2023 and the 31st of July, 2024 – at least in theory, because judges can always be swayed by football played outside these dates.
Arguably the most important competition taking place in the judging period is the 2024 European Football Championships. Euro 2024 runs from the 14th of June to the 14th of July. There will be a Copa America in 2024, plus the Olympic football tournament, not to mention the Champions League and several other big club competitions. But the reality is that there is every chance that the winner of the Ballon d’Or could well be a player who helps their nation to glory at the Euros in Germany.
As things stand, France and England are joint-favourites for the Euros, which bodes very well for Mbappé, Bellingham and Kane. However, hosts Germany are well fancied, which could make Jamal Musiala an interesting contender at 33/1, whilst Spain, Belgium and Portugal are not without hope. In contrast, things look less promising for Norwegian powerhouse Haaland. His nation may qualify yet but will have to rely on the play-off route to do so, and even then it would be a push to imagine them reaching the last eight, let alone going all the way.
The Case for Haaland
That is not to rule out Haaland, who finished second behind Messi in the 2023 vote. He scored an unbelievable number of goals last season and looks likely to do so again this term. At the time of writing, he has 13 goals and three assists in 15 games for Man City. If he was to once again bag 50+ goals for Pep’s side, and help them retain the Premier League and Champions League, he would take some stopping.
International Sphere Favours Mbappé
Given France’s record of winning, or at least making the final of, major tournaments and England’s record of, well, not doing that, Euro 2024 would seem to give Mbappé a good chance of winning the 2024 Ballon d’Or. Not 25 until December, the Parisian ace has already played in two World Cup finals, scoring in one, that his side won, and netting a hat-trick in the other, which France lost. Playing his club football in France doesn’t help his cause though and unless PSG win the Champions League, which looks unlikely, Mbappé would be relying primarily on his international feats to be recognised.
Bellingham Looking Good on Two Fronts
Bellingham, in contrast to the other two favourites for the 2024 Ballon d’Or, should get the chance to really impress for both club and country. His form for Real Madrid has been staggering, with 13 goals and three assists from his first 13 games for Los Blancos even eclipsing Haaland. Not bad for a midfielder (even if he has been used in an advanced role for many of those matches)!
England also appear to be growing and improving, and with the likes of John Stones, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane, Bellingham has plenty of support. With the Madrid man flying for his club and in with a decent shot of achieving something with his country, the former Birmingham City star looks in with a real chance of taking Ballon d’Or glory.
Or Will it be Harry?
That said, much of what we have said about Jude, applies to a certain Harry, breaking records aplenty with Bayern Munich. If Kane’s goals led Bayern to Champions League glory and/or England to lifting the European Championship trophy, there is every chance that he might just ruin the party for the younger stars of world football and maintain the dominance the over-30s have enjoyed for the last decade. Time will tell.