After a season headlined by Lionel Messi’s historic World Cup triumph, the Argentine legend scooped his eighth and perhaps last Ballon d’Or last month.
Of the 15 men’s Ballon d’Or awards handed out since 2008, Messi and his arch-nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo have claimed 13, with Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Karim Benzema interrupting their dominance.
However, the household duo have left Europe for Major League Soccer and the Saudi Pro League, respectively, opening the door for a new generation of footballers to contest for the most coveted individual prize.
With Messi and Ronaldo presumably no longer in contention for the award, it’s time for someone else to pick up the mantle.
The list of nominees for this year’s award featured many well-known individuals. But it also offered an insight into potential future winners as we delve into the pool of possible candidates to win it in 2024.
It’s unfathomable how he missed out on the 2023 prize. The prolific Manchester City striker had a memorable first season at the Etihad Stadium.
The 23-year-old’s record-breaking 36-goal tally in his first Premier League campaign saw him become the first player to win the Premier League Player and Young Player of the Year awards in the same season.
Haaland ended the season with a jaw-dropping 52 goals from 53 appearances, playing a pivotal role in Man City’s historic treble-winning campaign.
Pep Guardiola’s talismanic frontman has shown few signs of stopping this term, already moving to the top of the Premier League scoring charts with 11 goals while adding another four in the Champions League.
If it weren’t for Messi’s heroics in the 2022 World Cup final, Mbappe would’ve probably won the award, regardless of Paris Saint-Germain’s perennial struggles on the continental front.
The quicksilver forward almost single-handedly led France to back-to-back World Cup triumphs, but Argentina’s win on penalties rendered his hat-trick in the grand final pointless.
However, Mbappe has been one of the best individuals on the planet since swapping Monaco for PSG in 2017, racking up a mind-blowing 224 goals and 87 assists in 272 games for Les Parisiens.
Following a toxic summer filled with wild speculation and controversy, the 24-year-old has painted his return to Paris’ good grace with flying colours, scoring 12 times in 14 matches across all competitions.
Unfortunately for him, his chances in what promises to be an intense race will largely depend on PSG’s results in Europe, which has been a sticking point down the years.
If Real Madrid’s history has taught us anything, it’s that trophies are a near-certainty, no matter the line-up. But Carlo Ancelotti’s squad has a new leader after parting with Benzema in the summer.
Not even the most optimistic Los Blancos fans could’ve envisaged such a significant early impact from Bellingham, who has taken La Liga by storm since arriving from Borussia Dortmund for £88.5 million in the summer.
The prodigious attacking midfielder is worth every penny as he has already grown to become a fan favourite at the Santiago Bernabeu after a superb start to life in Spain.
With ten goals, two of which saw Madrid complete a second-half comeback to beat Barcelona 2-1 in El Clasico, Bellingham resides at the top of the scoring leaderboard in La Liga.
Most of his goals have been match-winners, but his stellar form at the start of the season brings up a question – how long can he keep it up?
It will probably come down to these three young superstars. Given Man City’s dominant form on all fronts, Haaland should have the upper hand over the other contenders.
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