Ballon d’Or 2023 Power Rankings: Neymar & Robert Lewandowski slide as Marcus Rashford & Vinicius Junior enter the top five

Marcus Rashford Vinicius Junior GFXGetty/GOAL

It might not seem that long ago since Karim Benzema was picking up the 2022 Ballon d’Or, but the race for the 2023 award has already picked up plenty of steam.

It promised to be a unique Ballon d’Or battle, with the World Cup taking place in the middle of the 2022-23 campaign, meaning it could be a distant memory by the time votes are cast.

There is no doubt, however, that playing a starring role in Qatar has boosted some players’ chances of competing for the Golden Ball ahead of the return of the Champions League in the past weeks.

Who, then, has put themselves in the frame for the biggest individual honour of them all, and who has some catching up to do?

Join GOAL as our 12-month Ballon d’Or Power Rankings journey continues…

(Previous update: February 13, 2022. Players removed: Achraf Hakimi, Mohamed Salah.)

  • Enzo Fernandez Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    20Enzo Fernandez (Chelsea)

    Last time: 16th

    In 2022-23: Five goals, nine assists. Won World Cup.

    Fernandez continues to exude class whenever he picks up the ball in midfield for Chelsea, but the Blues results are threatening to see them relegated to anonymity for the final weeks of the season.

    Should that happen, then all of a sudden Fernandez’s outstanding performances at the World Cup will feel like a long time ago for Ballon d’Or voters.

  • Julian Alvarez Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    19Julian Alvarez (Manchester City)

    Last time: 17th

    In 2022-23: 16 goals, three assists. Won World Cup.

    Alvarez got himself back on the scoresheet for City at Bournemouth on Saturday, but overall he has not been able to kick on from his impressive run of scoring at the World Cup since returning to England.

    The striker could yet end the season as one of the world’s most decorated players in terms of trophies won, but he might have to do more to help City get their hands on silverware than he is currently if he is to be a bona fide Ballon d’Or contender.

  • Harry Kane Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    18Harry Kane (Tottenham)

    Last time: 18th

    In 2022-23: 23 goals, seven assists.

    Kane’s goals have helped lift Tottenham back into the Premier League’s top four as they eye back-to-back seasons in the Champions League, though it feels like any hope the England captain has of being a Ballon d’Or contender rests on his performances in Europe this campaign.

    Antonio Conte’s side will be relying on Kane to step up again as they aim to overturn the 1-0 lead AC Milan possess over them following the first leg of their last-16 encounter.

  • Kevin De Bruyne Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    17Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

    Last time: 15th

    In 2022-23: Five goals, 19 assists.

    De Bruyne was superb as City beat Arsenal in what many felt was a potential early-season title decider, but with Pep Guardiola’s side having dropped points since then, their hopes of retaining their title have diminished once more.

    Certainly, they could do with their playmaker-in-chief getting back to his best, with De Bruyne having struggled for consistency since his disappointing World Cup with Belgium.

  • Martin Odegaard Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    16Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

    Last time: 14th

    In 2022-23: Eight goals, eight assists.

    Odegaard remains on track to be the first Arsenal captain to lift the Premier League trophy since Patrick Vieira in 2004, with the Gunners maintaining their lead at the top of the table despite defeat to closest rivals Manchester City.

    The midfielder’s influence in terms of goals and assists has dropped a little since his flying start to 2023, but he remains a key member of the Gunners team without whom they would be in serious trouble.

  • Karim Benzema Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    15Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

    Last time: NEW ENTRY

    In 2022-23: 18 goals, five assists. Won Club World Cup & UEFA Super Cup.

    Injuries meant that the defending Ballon d’Or winner had a first half of the season to forget, as Benzema struggled for consistent form before being ruled out of the World Cup on the eve of the tournament.

    He seems to have found his goalscoring touch in 2023, though, and with Los Blancos looking in the kind of form that could see them go deep in the Champions League once more, the France striker has a chance to remain in contention for a second Golden Ball.

  • Lisandro Martinez Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    14Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United)

    Last time: NEW ENTRY

    In 2022-23: One goal, 16 clean sheets. Won World Cup & Carabao Cup.

    He might not have started every match in Qatar, but Martinez was still a key figure for Argentina in their World Cup triumph, and now he seems hell bent on adding more silverware to his collection in the coming months.

    The centre-back has been in superb form for Manchester United this season, and with the first of potentially four club trophies now in the bag, he has a real shot at being one of Europe’s most decorated players in 2022-23.

  • Jude Bellingham Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    13Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)

    Last time: 13th

    In 2022-23: 11 goals, eight assists.

    Bellingham’s form has been a key factor in Dortmund forcing themselves back into the Bundesliga title race, with Edin Terzic’s side now level on points with leaders Bayern Munich after an electric start to 2023.

    Dortmund have won all nine games they have played in 2023 in all competitions, and if they can finish the job against Chelsea in the Champions League, then Bellingham will have the chance to show his talents off in front of a global audience once more.

  • Bukayo Saka Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    12Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

    Last time: 12th

    In 2022-23: 13 goals, 10 assists.

    He may spend a lot of the time being kicked from pillar to post, but when Saka is able to avoid being fouled, he is showing just why he is one of the most exciting talents in European football.

    The England winger has stepped up as a goalscorer more and more as the season has gone on, with Arsenal still dreaming of both domestic and European silverware.

  • Neymar Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    11Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Last time: 5th

    In 2022-23: 21 goals, 20 assists. Won Trophee des Champions.

    Is this where Neymar and PSG finally head their separate ways? The Brazilian’s ankle injury threatens to keep him out of action for a number of weeks, and his absence could again coincide with the French champions’ exit from Europe.

    Regardless of when he returns, if PSG can turn around their clash with Bayern Munich, it feels as if we have entered the end game when it comes to his future at Parc des Princes.

  • Jamal Musiala Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    10Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich)

    Last time: 10th

    In 2022-23: 15 goals, 13 assists. Won DFL-Supercup.

    Musiala marked his 20th birthday with another goal on Sunday as Bayern saw off title rivals Union Berlin at the Allianz Arena.

    The Germany international remains the favourite to be crowned Bundesliga Player of the Season, and if he can keep the Bavarians in Champions League contention too, then a Ballon d’Or nomination should be a sure thing.

  • Casemiro Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    9Casemiro (Manchester United)

    Last time: 11th

    In 2022-23: Six goals, seven assists. Won Carabao Cup & UEFA Super Cup.

    Casemiro has now won each of the last nine finals he has played in, and showed off his love for the big occasion with the opening goal in the Carabao Cup final.

    United are a team transformed with the Brazil midfielder pulling the strings, and it’s no exaggeration to say that he is one of the best Premier League signings of recent times.

  • Victor Osimhen Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    8Victor Osimhen (Napoli)

    Last time: 9th

    In 2022-23: 21 goals, four assists.

    Set to be one of the hottest properties in terms of this summer’s transfer market, Osimhen is focused on delivering trophies to Napoli for now, with his goalscoring form showing no signs of slowing down.

    The Nigeria striker is in unstoppable form and if he can maintain it through to the spring, then European glory could well follow what now seems like an inevitable Serie A title.

  • Khvicha Kvaratskhelia Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    7Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)

    Last time: 8th

    In 2022-23: 14 goals, 16 assists.

    Just when you thought Kvaratskhelia might be losing his magic touch after his penalty was saved by Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, the Georgian winger produced a backheel assist for the ages to set up Giovanni Di Lorenzo for Napoli’s second goal in Germany.

    That strike likely sealed Luciano Spalletti’s side’s progression to the Champions League quarter-finals, giving ‘Kvaradona’ the biggest stage yet to show the world exactly why he deserves to be in the Ballon d’Or conversation in 2023.

  • Robert Lewandowski Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    6Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)

    Last time: 4th

    In 2022-23: 27 goals, eight assists. Won Supercopa de Espana.

    With no European football to play for the rest of the season, Lewandowski will likely have to go supernova down the stretch for Barcelona if he is to finally end his wait for the Ballon d’Or this year.

    A hamstring injury picked up in Sunday’s defeat to Almeria won’t help in that regard, then.

  • Vinicius Junior Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    5Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

    Last time: 7th

    In 2022-23: 19 goals, 13 assists. Won Club World Cup & UEFA Super Cup.

    What Vinicius has had to go through since the turn of the year in terms of the vile abuse that has been aimed at him would have broken some players, but the Brazilian has instead used it to spur him onto greater things.

    His match-winning display at Anfield put him firmly into the Ballon d’Or conversation, and if he can carry Madrid to yet another Champions League final, then a place on the podium should not be ruled out.

  • Marcus Rashford Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    4Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

    Last time: 6th

    In 2022-23: 28 goals, nine assists. Won Carabao Cup.

    Rashford was eventually credited with the second goal in United’s Carabao Cup final victory, giving the England striker a crowning moment to cap the best three months of his career to date.

    If he can now maintain his current form and carry the Red Devils to yet more silverware, then nothing can be ruled out in terms of individual honours.

  • Erling Haaland Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    3Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

    Last time: 3rd

    In 2022-23: 34 goals, four assists.

    After his electric start to the season, it feels like Haaland has become a bit of background player in the overall narrative of the campaign, even as he continues to break records on an almost weekly basis.

    That will all change, however, if he is able to fire City to domestic and European glory in the final months of 2022-23.

  • Kylian Mbappe Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    2Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Last time: 2nd

    In 2022-23: 38 goals, nine assists.

    Mbappe is playing like a man who knows that his team’s hopes of progressing in the Champions League rest on his shoulders, and the signs are ominous for Bayern Munich’s defence right now.

    If he can turn that tie around and take PSG deep in Europe, then Mbappe could yet convince the judges that he is finally worthy of his first Ballon d’Or.

  • Lionel Messi Ballon d'Or Rankings GFXGetty/GOAL

    1Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Last time: 1st

    In 2022-23: 29 goals, 20 assists. Won World Cup & Trophee des Champions.

    With every week that passes, the World Cup becomes more of a distant memory, and though Messi lifting the trophy will likely remain the defining image of 2022-23, Ballon d’Or voters are not known for looking back too far.

    That’s not to say Messi isn’t playing well right now, but scoring goals in Ligue 1 as others shine in the Champions League and better domestic competitions won’t be enough for him to hold onto his current lead in the Golden Ball race.


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