5 players who are most likely to win the Ballon d’Or in 2028

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 v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg – Bundesliga

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 CF v Atletico de Madrid - Copa Del Rey Quarter Final
Real Madrid CF v Atletico de Madrid – Copa Del Rey Quarter Final

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.

#3 Pedri

Girona FC v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander
Girona FC v FC Barcelona – LaLiga Santander

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.

Pedri posted and deleted this story with a circle around his No. 8…He posted it after Barcelona went 8 points clear of Real Madrid 😅 https://t.co/Ba85mL5JjQ

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

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City – Premier League

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).

Erling Haaland is still running away with the Premier League Golden Boot ⚽️ https://t.co/p6MEy30F60

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

SL Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain: Group H - UEFA Champions Leagu
SL Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain: Group H – UEFA Champions Leagu

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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European Golden Shoe 2021/22 standings

The 2021/22 European Golden Shoe race is over after a season in which the continent’s most prolific goalscorers were all vying to win one of football’s most prestigious individual awards.

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski saw off the challenge of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to finish at the top of the European Golden Shoe rankings last season.

READ MORE: European Golden Shoe 2022/23: Current standings and past winners

Lewandowski scored an astonishing 41 league goals from 29 appearances, giving him 82 Golden Shoe points and the highest winning score since Ronaldo in 2014/15.

Manchester United star Ronaldo and Messi – who has moved from Barcelona to PSG – both entered the new campaign expecting to challenge again in the standings for the most goals in Europe.

READ MORE: Who will be the European Assists King for 2021/22?

Messi’s PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe and a fellow young star in Erling Haaland were also expected to be in the mix to top the Golden Shoe rankings and take the crown from Lewandowski.

Along with Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah started the season as the top Premier League candidates, though surprise winners have also emerged in the past.

This page was updated throughout the 2021/22 season with regular updates on the European Golden Shoe standings, and the final result can now be viewed below.


Robert Lewandowski has clinched back-to-back European Golden Shoe titles after another spectacular season.

The Bayern striker scored in his side’s last game of the Bundesliga campaign against Wolfsburg on May 14, with his future at the club looking uncertain amid transfer speculation.

Lewandowski therefore finished the league season with 35 goals to his name from 34 appearances, a total which saw him score the most goals in Europe for 2021/22.

Given the Bundesliga season is shorter than the other major divisions in Europe, Lewandowski finished before many of his rivals had completed their top-flight campaigns, but a huge lead meant his victory never looked in doubt.

Lewandowski secured European golden boot glory once more even though he fell slightly short of his historic 41-goal total last season.

He led the Golden Shoe race for most of the season, but while he was stable at the top, the chasing pack behind him was rotating regularly, right up until our final standings.

PSG sensation Kylian Mbappe, the Ligue 1 top scorer, ultimately claimed second place with 28 goals and 56 Golden Shoe points.

It was a remarkable year for the World Cup winner, who also had 18 assists in the top flight to tie Thomas Muller for the best creative total in Europe’s top-five leagues.

A hat-trick as PSG thrashed Metz 5-0 on the last day of the Ligue 1 season saw Mbappe leapfrog Karim Benzema and Ciro Immobile to finish as best of the rest behind Lewandowski.

It was the second-best goal total of his career, behind only the 33 he scored in 2018/19, and the attacker looks a likely winner of the Golden Shoe in the future.

Benzema (27 goals) recorded the best league goalscoring campaign that he has had in 13 seasons with Real Madrid, impressively beating the 24 goals he netted in 2015/16.

The France forward posted highest Primera Division total and was one of the most prominent challengers to Lewandowski in these standings for much of what was a sublime campaign.

Benzema may have taken second over Mbappe had he not had his schedule carefully managed by Carlo Ancelotti in the final weeks of the season after the domestic title was secured, with a Champions League final against Liverpool in mind.

Lazio forward Immobile, a former winner of this award, superbly scored 27 times in the league this season to top the charts in Serie A.

He has topped 20 goals in Serie A in five of his six seasons for Lazio and remains a prolific striker who consistently features in the Golden Shoe race.

Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder challenged Mbappe in Ligue 1 for much of the season and he finished with 25 goals to claim an impressive fifth-place finish in the Golden Shoe, boosted by a hat-trick against Brest in the penultimate game of the season.

Ohi Omoijuanfo, who played for Molde and Red Star Belgrade over the course of the campaign, came sixth and was the highest-placed finisher outside Europe’s fop-five leagues.

Leverkusen forward Patrik Schick and Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic finished level on 24 goals. Both of those players were fast starters this season which made them a permanent fixture on the leaderboard.

Completing the top 10 were the two payers who ultimately finished level in the Premier League golden boot race with 23 goals. They were Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who was the leader for most of the campaign in England, and his Tottenham rival Son Heung-min.

Strikes on the last day of the EPL season for that duo meant outgoing Dortmund star Erling Haaland, who will be joining them in England with Man City next season, finished 11th after racking up 22 strikes despite an injury-hit season.

So Lewandowski once again finished top of the prestigious Golden Shoe standings and the major league seasons across Europe have now come to a close.

Lewandowski becomes the 10th player to win the Golden Shoe twice – a total only bettered by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who were unable to challenge this season.

After not producing a winner since 1972, the Bundesliga has now come out on top for two straight campaigns, and the stage is set for another intriguing battle in 2022/23.

2021/22 European Golden Shoe

Who are the previous European Golden Shoe winners?

Lionel Messi has won the most European Golden Shoe titles.

The PSG forward has triumphed on six occasions, most recently in 2018/19 for Barcelona.

Cristiano Ronaldo is his closest challenger with four career wins, though the Man Utd attacker has not come out on top since 2014/15 when he was at Real Madrid.

Nine players have two awards apiece, including Luis Suarez and Thierry Henry.

Messi holds the record for most goals and points in a season as well. He remarkably scored 50 goals in 2011/12, earning himself 100 points.

Ronaldo has come closest to breaking that, scoring 48 goals for 96 points when he last won the crown more than six years ago.

Argentina forward Messi is the only player in European Golden Shoe history to win the title three years in a row, doing so from 2016/17 until 2018/19.

Ronaldo, though, is one of only four players to have won the title with different clubs. The others are Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan and Mario Jardel.

Robert Lewandowski became the first Bundesliga winner since 1972 last season, with his 41 goals being the best tally for six seasons.

That came after Ciro Immobile won the 2019/20 European Golden Shoe, scoring 36 goals for Lazio in a tremendous Serie A season.

It was his first title, with the striker becoming the first Serie A player to have the most goals in Europe since Francesco Totti triumphed for Lazio‘s rivals Roma in 2006/07.

Ligue 1 has not produced a winner since Josip Skoblar in 1971, a statistic the likes of Messi and Mbappe are hoping to change soon.

What are the European Golden Shoe rules and weightings?

Only league goals are eligible for the European Golden Shoe, with each strike earning points in a weighted system depending on the quality of league.

The five elite leagues – Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 – all carry a weighting of 2, meaning that a player will be awarded two points for every goal they score in these competitions.

For the leagues ranked sixth to 21 in Uefa’s coefficients rankings – which includes the top-flights in Portugal, Netherlands and Russia – goals scored are given a weighting of 1.5, and goals scored in a league outwith the top 21 are given a weighting of 1.

That was not always the case in the European Golden Shoe. From 1968 until 1991, the award simply went to the highest goalscorer on the continent, regardless of the strength of league.

Awards were not initially handed out between 1991 until 1996, when the new system came into force. Since then, only two players playing outside what were the five highest-ranked leagues at the time have ever won the Golden Shoe – Henrik Larsson (2000/01) and Mario Jardel (2001/02).

The Golden Shoe has been tied in the past, most recently when Suarez and Ronaldo shared the honour in 2013/14. Going forward, though, the award will be given to the player who has played the fewest minutes if two of them end up on the same number of points.

This page covers the 2021/22 European Golden Shoe race.

Last season’s standings can be found here and if you want to see the final results for the 2019/20 European Golden Shoe, follow this link.

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