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2024 Ballon d’Or power rankings: First Premier League winner since Cristiano Ronaldo?

All of the biggest matches of 2024 have now been played following the conclusion of the 2023-24 European season, the Copa America and Euro 2024. That means that we can now safely predict who will get their hands on the Ballon d’Or later this year.

Real Madrid, Spain and Argentina got their hands on the biggest trophies and it’ll be their superstar names that look set to do battle for football’s most prestigious individual award.

With all that being said, and judging everything that’s happened in the eligibility period, we’ve put together a top 10 power rankings of which names we expect to see hoping to lift the Ballon d’Or come the glitzy Paris ceremony in late October.

10. Kylian Mbappe (=)

Let’s make this clear from the bat: Kylian Mbappe will not be lifting his first Ballon d’Or later this year, bar an absolutely extraordinary turnaround in his start to life at Real Madrid.

Mbappe is regarded by many as the best player in the world, and that status certainly helps. Mbappe is finally officially a Madrid player and having Florentino Perez and vast swathes of the Spanish media behind him won’t hurt his cause by the time the voting rolls around.

But for Los Blancos’ latest Galactico, the decisive matches are behind him. And unfortunately for him, they didn’t go his way.

“In football you’re good or not good. I wasn’t good. My Euro was a failure,” he admitted following France’s semi-final defeat to Spain.

“I wanted to be European champion. I will now go on holiday, I will rest well, it will do me a lot of good, then I will get ready to start a new life. There’s a lot to do.”

A healthy attitude. We’d make him the massive favourite for the 2025 Ballon d’Or following his debut season at the Bernabeu. Watch this space.

9. Lamine Yamal (=)

The story of Euro 2024 turned 17 on Saturday. Ridiculous.

His assist for Nico Williams’ opener against England was his fourth of Euro 2024. That saw him finish the tournament with more than any other player, and match the all-time European Championships record for most assists in a single tournament. Then you’ve got that howitzer against France.

In all honesty, we don’t expect to see Yamal competing for this year’s Ballon d’Or. But he was deservedly named Euro 2024’s Young Player of the Tournament and should have the Golden Boy in the bag.

If this remarkable trajectory continues he might well compete for the top award in the future.

8. Dani Carvajal (NEW)

A right-back isn’t going to win the Ballon d’Or. Let’s be serious.

By the same token, it’s difficult to imagine a right-back doing much more. The decisive first goal in the Champions League final before providing vital experience to win a first major international honour with Spain.

Winning both European honours with club and country in the same year is a rare feat. Carvajal ought to be a shoo-in for any Team of the Year XIs.

Dani Carvajal Spain Real Madrid Euro 2024 Champions League trophies both

READ: Every player to win the Champions League & Euros in the same year: Spain trio join exclusive club

7. Harry Kane (↓2)

The likes of Messi, Cristiano, Benzema and Ronaldo Nazario all followed up the European Golden Shoe with the Ballon d’Or.

Kane picked up that particular individual accolade for the first time in his career, but his trophy drought continues following Bayern’s Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid and England’s heartbreaking Euro 2024 defeat to Spain.

As well as the Bundesliga Golden Boot, he was the top scorer in the Champions League and at Euro 2024. But he looked off the pace and out of place with a series of strangely stunted performances in Germany.

Yet another bittersweet year for England’s all-time top goalscorer.

Bayern Munich's Harry Kane leads the race for the European Golden Shoe in 2023-24

READ: The final European Golden Shoe standings in 2023-24: Harry Kane blows away the competition

6. Toni Kroos (↑1)

We thought there might be a ‘lifetime achievement’ element that could work in Kroos’ favour, a bit like Modric in 2018, Martin Scorsese’s Best Director Oscar for The Departed, or that time Ryan Giggs was named Premier League Player of the Year.

There seemed to be an element of destiny working for Kroos as he bowed out of club football with yet another Champions League trophy. We could just see his swansong going perfectly by winning the one trophy that eluded him, the European Championships, on home soil.

Kroos was pretty magnificent at Euro 2024, but it wasn’t to be as Germany were defeated by a superb Spain in the quarters.

5. Lautaro Martinez (↑2)

“I am on the same level as Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Harry Kane & Robert Lewandowski,” Martinez said towards the end of the season.

“I have nothing to envy, the numbers and the trophies say so. There are champions who have won fewer trophies than me.”

Big words, but he should be in a bullish mood after a career-best campaign – he won Serie A’s Capocannoniere for top scorer with 24 goals after firing Inter to the Scudetto.

But Inter’s underwhelming Champions League campaign, in which Martinez missed a decisive penalty in the shootout defeat to Atletico Madrid, surely scuppered any vague hopes of the Ballon d’Or.

Lionel Scaloni tended to prefer Julian Alvarez’s workrate and link-up play at the Copa America, but Martinez made a colossal impact from the bench. He ended up as the Copa America’s Golden Boot winner with five goals, having come off the bench to score the match-winner in the final victory over Colombia. What a way to cap off a brilliant year.

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4. Lionel Messi (↑1)


It ought to be noted that Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or after leading Argentina to Copa America glory in 2021. And he’s done so again in 2024, making Argentina only the second national team in football history (after Spain) to bookend the World Cup with back-to-back continental titles.

However, there are a number of reasons things are different this time:

A) Messi was still playing at the top European level, with Barcelona and PSG, back in 2021. Messi is having himself a lovely time with Inter Miami, but any achievements in MLS are unlikely to be recognised in Ballon d’Or consideration (as with Ronaldo at Al Nassr). The tectonic plates of elite-level football still have a lot of shifting for that to change.

B) In 2021, Italy won the European Championships and Chelsea won the Champions League. Jorginho was instrumental in both, but the two sides otherwise lacked headline-grabbing superstar names.

C) Messi hasn’t been quite so instrumental in Argentina’s Copa victory triumph this time around. He’s still extraordinarily good, especially for a 37-year-old, but he only notched one goal and one assist as James Rodriguez was deservedly named Player of the Tournament and Lautaro Martinez claimed the Golden Boot. As evidenced by his team-mates going on to win the final after he went off injured, there’s less of a sense that their talismanic captain carried the team this time around.

Still, he’s ageing like a fine wine. A podium placing isn’t out of the question, while he’ll surely end up the highest-ranked player in a Ballon d’Or vote that has spent the entire eligibility period outside of Europe.

Lionel Messi for Argentina features in second place in the all-time international goalscorers list

READ: The top 10 international goalscorers of all time: Lionel Messi up to 2nd…

3. Jude Bellingham (↓2)

You arguably have to go all the way back to Alfredo di Stefano to find a player who made such an instant impact in their debut season at Real Madrid. Which for the club famous for Galactico signings (Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo to name a few) is quite ridiculous.

Bellingham ended the season as Los Blancos’ top scorer, notching as many goals as Barcelona’s main striker Robert Lewandowski, and was named La Liga’s Player of the Year, a season in which he scored injury-time match-winners home and away in Clasicos – something neither Messi nor Ronaldo ever did.

But he wasn’t anywhere near his best in the big Champions League knockout matches, although he did assist Vinicius Junior in the final.  You’d also say he wasn’t actually all that in England’s biggest matches, that overhead kick against Slovakia aside.

Few that watch Bellingham week in week out, particularly since the turn of the year, would claim he’s the best player in the world. But he was one match away from an unbelievable European double, which would surely have sealed a first Ballon d’Or for an Englishman since Michael Owen in 2001.

The Three Lions’ valiant defeat to Spain in the Euro 2024 final means that this probably won’t be his year. But he should make the podium.

2. Vinicius Junior (=)

Vinicius scored in the Champions League final and unlike Bellingham, really came alive in the latter knockout stages. He was absolutely outstanding against Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

The Brazilian was by some distance Madrid’s most dangerous attacker come spring when they sealed a La Liga & Champions League double. That’s so often what the Ballon d’Or comes down to – just look at the years it was lifted by Messi, Ronaldo and Benzema.

In a non-tournament year, Vinicius would surely already have this year’s Ballon d’Or in the bag. But this year’s summer tournaments might’ve scuppered his bid.

Brazil are yet to find a way to get the very best out of the Real Madrid superstar, who was suspended for Brazil’s Copa America quarter-final elimination at the hands of Uruguay.

Vinicius scored twice against Paraguay in the Selecao’s only victory on North American soil this summer, but he was also poor and picked up unnecessary bookings in group-stage draws against Colombia and Costa Rica, leaving him absent from the knockout stages when they needed him most.

1. Rodri (↑2)

“Rodri ballon d’or confirmed,” tweeted Jan Verthongen following Spain’s Euro 2024 final victory over England.

Not quite confirmed, Jan. This year’s biggest trophies have been spread out and things remain pretty open. Vini Jr remains the bookmakers’ favourite. As a defensive midfielder, Rodri may well find himself overlooked by flashier forward options.

“I don’t play football for that [Ballon d’Or recognition],” Rodri recently told The Guardian.

“Maybe people would like me to be more marketable and he [Morata] sometimes says: “Mate, you should …” but I understand football differently. I know how it works so I don’t get frustrated if [I get overlooked]. If one day someone wants to reward the work, that’s welcome, but it doesn’t bother me at all.”

Let’s be honest. He’s probably the best player in the world. With Rodri dictating things from the middle of the park, both Manchester City and Spain invariably find themselves setting the tempo, dominating and dictating terms against the opposition.

How many other players in world football can claim to have such influence on the pitch?

Injury in the Euro 2024 final denied him a fitting conclusion to an unbelievable year that saw him suffer just one defeat in all competitions for club and country. He deservedly picked up the Player of the Tournament award and was the architect of Spain’s outrageously good tournament, in which they won all seven matches, beating hosts Germany and favourites France and England en route to lifting the trophy.