The Ballon d’Or award is widely regarded as the most prestigious individual accolade in football. First presented by French news magazine France Football in 1956, the award recognizes the standout male footballer deemed to have performed best over the previous season. In its current format, the top 100 journalists from FIFA’s top 100 nations cast their votes to determine the Ballon d’Or winner.
With 12 Ballon d’Or awards shared between them, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the two brightest stars in the history of the award. Messi, with seven wins, holds the record for most Ballon d’Or wins, and by the looks of it, the World Cup winner could add another to his collection this year.
Brilliant as the pair are, even they cannot escape Father Time, meaning a new era is set to dawn sooner rather than later. Today, we will make a fun prediction of the post-Messi-Ronaldo era, check out which players could go on to win the award in the coming years.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a quick look at five players who could win the Ballon d’Or award five years from now, in 2028.
#5 Jude Bellingham
Borussia Dortmund’s 19-year-old central midfielder Jude Bellingham is one of the most sought-after players in the world right now. The England international, who is currently being chased by Liverpool and Real Madrid, could leave Dortmund in a big-money switch in the summer.
Bellingham is a gifted central midfielder who not only knows how to do damage higher up the pitch but can also hold down the fort. Bellingham has a penchant for scoring goals and his composure is beyond his years. Considering he picks the right club and continues his development, he could be one of the favorites for the 2028 Ballon d’Or.
Bellingham has scored 20 goals and provided 23 assists in 115 appearances for Dortmund in all competitions so far. In international football, he has one goal and two assists to his name in 22 games.
#4 Vinicius Junior
Real Madrid and Brazil winger Vinicius Junior has already become a superstar. The 22-year-old left-winger scored the winner in the 2022 Champions League final against Liverpool and finished in eighth place in the 2022 Ballon d’Or rankings.
In full flight, Vinicius Junior is a force to be reckoned with. He possesses blistering pace, has the innate ability to beat players in one-on-one duels, and works tirelessly from start to finish. For the Whites, Vinicius Junior has scored 49 goals and claimed 49 assists in 201 appearances across competitions. For Brazil, on the other hand, Vinicius Junior has scored twice and claimed two assists in 20 games.
Real Madrid and Brazil are two of the most ambitious teams in football and regularly find themselves competing for the biggest trophies. Considering the fact that winning the most prestigious accolades helps an individual greatly in the Ballon d’Or race, the odds are in Vinicius Junior’s favor to win the cherished award sooner rather than later.
Lionel Messi won six of his seven Ballon d’Or awards as a Barcelona player, with the club arming him with all the right ingredients to become an icon. Central midfielder Pedri could follow in Messi’s footsteps and bring the prestigious accolade to Camp Nou in the future.
At only 20 years of age, Pedri has already emerged as a natural leader in Barcelona’s midfield. He is confident with the ball at his feet, knows how to dictate the game’s tempo, has a knack for splitting defenses open with throughballs, and can also score. Since joining from Las Palmas in July 2020 (after a loan spell), Pedri has scored 15 goals and claimed seven assists in 102 games across competitions.
With age on his side and great icons to learn from, Pedri has every right to fancy himself lifting the prized accolade in 2028.
#2 Erling Haaland
The Ballon d’Or award has a knack for favoring goalscorers, and Manchester City goalmachine Erling Haaland is one of the best in the business. Only 22 years of age, the Norwegian has demonstrated lethal finishing in two of Europe’s top five leagues: Germany’s Bundesliga and England’s Premier League.
Before joining Manchester City for a €60 million fee in the summer of 2022, Haaland scored a staggering 86 goals in 89 appearances in the Bundesliga. The strong and pacey center-forward has caught England by storm, scoring 25 goals in only 20 Premier League appearances. He has already shattered a few important Premier League records, becoming the quickest to score 20 league goals (14 games) and four hat-tricks (19 games).
Considering he manages to keep injuries at bay, he could easily be posing with the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in 2028.
#1 Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe, 24, is already hailed as one of the best players in the world, chances are, he will only get even better in the coming days. The Frenchman has proven himself to be a model athlete and has shown admirable mental fortitude in the last few years, making him the most likely to win the Ballon d’Or in the future.
The PSG superstar, who won the Golden Boot after scoring eight goals at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, possesses blistering pace, is a competent creator, and a lethal finisher. Mbappe has already scored 36 goals and provided 23 assists in 66 appearances for his country. At PSG, he has bagged 196 goals and claimed 94 assists in 243 appearances across competitions.
If he manages to maintain his run of form and racks up a few important trophies, he could land a Ballon d’Or or two by the time 2028 comes around.
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