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Ballon d'Or: All you need to know

The 67th annual ceremony of the Ballon d'Or, which is presented by France Football, will take place on 30th October as the best footballers from around the globe are recognised for their achievements across the year.

The nominees for the awards were announced on 6th September, with a shortlist of 30 confirmed for the men's prize, including Inter Miami's Lionel Messi, who is the red-hot favourite to be handed the trophy for a record-extending eighth time. 

After leading Argentina to World Cup glory at Qatar 22 it is difficult to see any other player claiming the award, with the betting suggesting that Manchester City striker Erling Haaland is the only other viable candidate to beat Messi to the prize which will be awarded at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris at the end of next month.

A brief history of the Ballon d'Or

Conceived by French sportswriter Gabriel Hanot, the Ballon d'Or was first awarded in 1956 to Blackpool and England star Stanley Matthews, who pipped Real Madrid duo Alfredo Di Stefano and Raymond Kopa to the prize.

Initially seen as an award for just European players, the criteria was extended to include players from all over the world playing in Europe in 1995, with George Weah becoming the first player from outside the continent to pick up the trophy that same year.

The award then became a truly global prize in 2007, with all professional footballers from around the world being considered eligible.

Argentina star Messi has won the Ballon d'Or on a record six occasions, one more than old adversary Cristiano Ronaldo, while Michel Platini, Marco van Basten and Johan Cruyff are the only other players to have received the accolade more than twice.

Former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema claimed the award in 2022 but there is little chance of him adding to that tally following his move to Saudi Arabia and the strength of Messi's claims this time around.

Benzema's success meant France joined Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Argentina as the most decorated nations in the trophy's history, with players from those countries having won it seven times, while along with Italy and Germany, France also boast the most individual winners of the Ballon d'Or with 5.

2023 contenders - Messi the man to beat

Lionel Messi is hard to beat to this award at the best of times, but having finally led Argentina to World Cup glory in 2022 there seems little to stop the mercurial magician landing the award for an eighth time.

And his move to Inter Miami in Major League Soccer has appeared to have given him a new lease of life, and his performances Stateside and kept him firmly in the world spotlight.

Miami were one of the worst-performing sides in MLS, but the David Beckham-owned team won the Leagues Cup thanks to some outstanding performances from Messi who has scored 11 goals in 11 appearances for his new side, while also claiming eight assists.

That came on the back of some inspirational World Cup displays in Qatar where the Argentinian megastar scored seven goals on the way to helping his country lift the trophy for the third time.

Many thought moving to Miami suggested Messi was ready to put his feet up, but he seems reinvigorated and there looks to be more to come from the greatest player of all time, and there looks to be little challenge to him adding yet another Ballon d'Or to his collection at odds of just 1/8.

Rivals to the favourite

The betting suggests there are few realistic challengers to Mess in 2023 which is understandable given this year's prize will be awarded on the back of a World Cup finals.

Messi is long odds-on for more glory and the betting suggests the rest are just making up the numbers.

At 4/1, Erling Haaland is next best to Messi and the Manchester City forward is likely to garner plenty of support following his record-breaking first season in the Premier League.

The rampant Norwegian hit the ground running at the Etihad Stadium following his move from Borussia Dortmund, and the records tumbled as quickly as defenders as Haaland went on the rampage in the 2022/23 campaign.

The City striker plundered a record-breaking 52 goals in all competitions, and the 22-year-old didn't stop there, as his 36 Premier League goals, which included six hat-tricks, also set a new record. And if that wasn't enough, Haaland also finished as top scorer in the Champions League for a second time, too, with 12 goals across the competition.

As the goals flowed, so did the trophies, and Haaland helped Manchester City land a historic treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, and it was the third season running that City were crowned champions of England.

Haaland was instrumental in the Citizens' trophy-laden campaign and he looks a worthy, albeit distant rival, to Messi in this year's Ballon d'Or.

Can anyone else mount a serious challenge?

It looks unlikely with Messi conquering the world with Argentina and City beating all before them in the elite European competitions.

At 1/8 Messi is firm favourite, while Haaland is next best at 4/1 but the chasing pack are well adrift in the betting. Unsurprisingly, Haaland's City team-mates feature heavily with Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri chalked up as 50/1 shots, and Ilkay Gundogan and Julian Alvarez next up at 66/1.

Away from Manchester City, Real Madrid favourite Vinicius Junior is rated a 50/1 chance, and Kylian Mbappe is also 66/1. His compatriot, and last year's winner Karim Benzema is 80/1, while England pair Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham are in the list at 100/1.

Spain fancied for more glory

The Ballon d'Or Feminin, or as it is more commonly known the Women's Ballon d'Or, will be held for the third time this year, with Ada Hegerberg having claimed the inaugural prize in 2018, before Megan Rapinoe picked up the accolade the following year.

Spain have dominated the award since, with Alexia Putellas winning the award in 2021 and 2022, and La Roja look set to provide the winner once more following their recent Women's World Cup success.

Aitana Bonmati was outstanding in the tournament in Australia and New Zealand and her only rivals for the women's award are likely to come from her own team-mates in the shape of Olga Carmona or Alba Redondo.

Mille Bright and Rachel Daly could offer a challenge from the England nominees, while Sam Kerr is a lively contender following her goalscoring exploits for Australia.

However, Bonmati looks the most likely to be up on the stage in Paris holding aloft the coveted award.

Kopa and Yashin trophies also up for grabs

It is not just the best men's and women's player awards that are up grabs, as the Kopa Trophy for best player under the age of 21 and the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper will also be announced.

This will be the fifth time the Kopa Trophy has been awarded, with France and Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe becoming the first winner in 2018, while Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt triumphed 12 months later, while Spain have also been strong in this section too, with Pedri and Gavi claiming the 2021 and 2022 prizes.

The Spanish pair are in the running once more, and the lively heat looks a tough one to call with England's Jude Bellingham, French star Eduardo Camavinga and Germany's Jamal Musiala all representing strong claims.

The Yashin award for the best goalkeeper could be more clear-cut, though, with Argentina's Emiliano Martinez the firm favourite for some heroic performances for his country on their way to winning the World Cup last December.

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