Buidling Dreams Together


In discussion: The 2023 Ballon d’Or nominees

The 30 nominee shortlist for the 2023 Ballon d’Or was announced on Wednesday night. This comes ahead of the ceremony on October 30, hosted at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris.

In terms of the nominees, the list is certainly star studded:

Lionel Messi, Julian Alvarez, Emiliano Martinez and Lautaro Martinez make up the World Cup winning contingent.

Julian Alvarez is also joined by Manchester City teammates from their historic treble winning team. These include Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Erling Haaland, and Rodri.

Despite being pipped to the league by Manchester City, Arsenal find themselves represented. Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard receive nominations, with the pair boasting 49 goal contributions in 2022/23 between them.

A lot of recognition was handed to players from Italy’s Serie A. Scudetto winners Napoli see Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Victor Osimhen and Kim Min-Jae (now of Bayern) make the shortlist.

Champions League runners-up Inter Milan are also represented. Andre Onana (Manchester United), Nicolo Barella, and the aforementioned Martinez are selected after an impressive European campaign.

Karim Benzema was the only current Saudi Professional League player to be nominated. Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved to Al Nassr following the termination of his Manchester United contract, was not. This is the first time he has been omitted since 2003.

Despite the recognition of success, the list sparked a lot of controversy and discussion among fans. As such, here are some of the hottest topics surrounding the shortlist, and some picks that have flown under the radar:

The Surprise Omissions
(Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

One of the most controversial omissions from the shortlist was Marcus Rashford. This comes after he notched 41 goal contributions in all competitions, in what he described as his best ever season.

Rashford also helped United win the English League Cup, and scored in the final against Newcastle United.

There seems to be the notion amongst fans that team success carries far more weight over an individual award than it should – for example, Alvarez won four trophies last season, however was individually not on the level of someone like Rashford, which has led to further confusion over the England international’s omission.

(Photo via PHC Images/Alamy Stock Photo)

Manchester City defender John Stones was also not nominated. The ‘Barnsley Beckenbauer was one of the most vital players to Manchester City’s success last season.

His flexibility to play in midfield transformed Pep Guardiola’s tactical setup throughout the season, and gave them the edge on all fronts in the end.

The omission mainly comes as a surprise as Ruben Dias was nominated – who was certainly not as individually brilliant as Stones throughout the season.

The Goalkeeper’s Union
(Photo by Marcelo Endelli via Getty Images)

Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez has been nominated after claiming the Golden Glove at the Qatar World Cup. He also helped guide Villa to European football for the first time since 2010.

The Argentine is joined by fellow goalkeepers Andre Onana and Yassine Bounou, who were involved in the Champions League and Europa League finals respectively.

Bounou has proven to be a slightly controversial pick. Sevilla finished 12th in La Liga last season, conceding 54 goals in 38 games – according to http://fbref.com, Bounou’s save percentage per 90 over the last year stands at 64.1%. This ranks him comparatively lowly against other keepers, finding himself in the 11th percentile.

Many feel the pick has been compounded by the omission of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen. The German was integral to Barcelona’s title success last season – winning the league by 10 points over of Real Madrid. They also conceded a remarkably low 20 goals.

(Photo via Getty Images)

Statistically, Ter Stegen ranks in the 97th percentile and above for goals against per 90 and clean sheet percentage.

His post-shot expected goals (xG) minus goals allowed also stands at +0.12. This means he prevented more goals than what the xG of his shots faced suggest he should be saving.

Overall, the German keeper being left out has certainly raised eyebrows.

Nominations that went Unnoticed
(Photo via Web Atletico de Madrid)

Following a turgid spell at Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann has revived his career back at the Wanda Metropolitano.

The Frenchman notched 35 goal contributions in all competitions last season, helping Atletico Madrid to a third-place finish – just one point behind Real Madrid. Griezmann’s impressive campaign saw him purchased permanently by Diego Simeone after his loan spell ended.

While his numbers may not hit the headlines like others, he certainly shone individually last season.

Another nomination which has seemingly not attracted the interest of many is Randal Kolo Muani.

(Photo by Alex Grimm via Getty Images)

Kolo Muani had a breakthrough campaign in the Bundesliga last season. He registered 40 goal contributions for Eintracht Frankfurt, and also made his mark on the World Cup as he sent France through to the final, scoring the winner in a hard fought game against dark horses Morocco.

His standout performances led to him returning to France, where he made his name at Nantes. The forward completed a move to PSG in a deal worth €90m.

Rookies make the Shortlist
(Photo via dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo

Young starlets Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala find themselves nominated for the first time. The pair have also both been nominated for the Kopa Trophy.

Bellingham and Musiala both had superb campaigns last season, with each of their clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich fighting it out for their respective title until the final day.

In particular, Bellingham propelled his name further into stardom. The Birmingham-born midfielder racked up 21 goal contributions, whilst also scoring at the World Cup for England.

His goalscoring form seems to have progressed even further – following his move to Los Blancos in the summer, he has scored five goals in four games, finding himself loved already by the Madrid faithful.

Musiala continued to find his feet at Bayern Munich, finishing the season with a very impressive tally of 32 goal contributions – according to http://transfermarkt.co, his market value rose from €65m at the close of the 2021/22 season to €110m last season.

With his individual and club success, it should come of no shock to see the young German nominated for both awards.

While neither of them will be favourites for the Ballon d’Or, the two will likely be the front-runners for the Kopa Trophy.