20-year-old Real Madrid sensation Jude Bellingham has been priced as the early 10/3 favourite for the 2024 Ballon d’Or after Lionel Messi was declared the winner for an eighth time at the 2023 awards in Paris.
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36-year-old Messi pipped runner-up Erling Haaland and third-placed Kylian Mbappe to the prize after a history-making year which saw him lead Argentina to their third World Cup crown in Qatar.
Messi’s latest Ballon d’Or success takes him further clear of his long-time nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the Golden Ball, which has been awarded by France Football magazine since its inception in 1956, five times.
The Inter Miami star’s eight Ballon d’Or awards means he has now singlehandedly overtaken the four football nations with the most wins - with France, Germany, Netherlands and Portugal all having celebrated seven recipients of the prize.
Following the latest milestone achievements in the glittering career of the great Messi, attention now turns to who will be the next winner of the coveted Ballon d’Or, with Englishman Jude Bellingham the early favourite.
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: "All the talk is about Jude Bellingham being the first Englishman to lift the trophy since Michael Owen in 2001 with his sparkling performances for Real Madrid, but Harry Kane has also caught the eye of punters with the striker now breathing down his neck for favouritism having been backed from 6/1 into 4/1."
Let’s take a look at the credentials of the early 2024 Ballon d’Or frontrunners in turn:
Still remarkably only 20 years of age, Jude Bellingham has been a revelation since arriving at Real Madrid from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of £88.5m in the summer.
The England international has hit a remarkable 18 goals in 28 competitions in all competitions for Los Blancos.
He has already proven capable of turning it on in the big occasions, too, registering four goals in five Champions League matches and firing a blistering brace on his El Clasico debut in a 2-1 win for Real Madrid away at rivals Barcelona.
Bellingham is also fast developing into a key player for Gareth Southgate’s England, and with the Three Lions currently priced as 7/2 favourites to win next summer’s Euros in Germany, it’s unsurprising to see the midfielder tipped to become the first Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or since Michael Owen in 2001.
Despite having developed into undoubtedly one of the best players on the planet since firing France to World Cup glory as a 19-year-old in 2018, Kylian Mbappe is yet to get his hands on the coveted Ballon d’Or.
Placing third in the 2023 edition of the award after scoring an incredible hat-trick in the 2022 World Cup final as France agonisingly lost out to Argentina in the final, Mbappe will be desperate to go one better next year.
Perhaps it will be success in a major international tournament which will see Mbappe finally land the prize, with France currently joint-favourites to win Euro 2024 in Germany next summer.
After a record-breaking first campaign in English football with Manchester City – winning the Treble and scoring the most goals in a single Premier League season in history with 36 – Erling Haaland could not have done any more to come away with the Ballon d’Or in 2023.
It was not to be, however, with Messi’s own history-making with his country Argentina enough to see him get the nod on this occasion.
The Norwegian sensation is unlikely to have to wait too long to claim the prize, with City displaying no signs of letting up under Pep Guardiola and Haaland showing no indication of slowing down in front of goal.
Making a shock move to end his 19-year association with Tottenham in the summer to join German giants Bayern Munich, Harry Kane has hit the ground running in Bavaria with 14 goals in his first 13 matches for his new employers.
Kane’s decision to swap London for Munich was seemingly largely driven by a desire to win silverware for the first time in his career, with Bayern 4/7 favourites to win the Bundesliga and 4/1 second favourites for the Champions League.
Should the prolific striker secure these honours with Bayern, and enjoy a successful tournament as England captain in the Euros next summer in his new home country of Germany, Kane will put himself firmly in contention for the Ballon d’Or.
The latest recipient of the Ballon d’Or, Lionel Messi would love nothing more than to retain his crown and extend his record number of wins of the prize to nine.
This prospect appears somewhat unlikely given now plays his club football in the MLS with Inter Miami, but there are still international honours up for grabs for his beloved Argentina which could bolster his Ballon d’Or credentials.
La Albiceleste will be aiming to win a second successive Copa America title in the United States next summer, whilst Messi could also opt to compete for his second Olympic gold medal at the Summer Games in Paris in 2024.
Finishing in fifth position in the voting for the 2023 Ballon d’Or after an incredible year which saw him not only claim the Treble with club Man City but the UEFA Nations League with his country Spain, Rodri will be striving for an equally decorated campaign in the months ahead.
The defensive midfielder has grown into one of the key cornerstones of Guardiola’s winning machine at City, who are unsurprisingly favourites at 15/8 to retain their Champions League title.
If, as expected, Rodri goes on to claim more major honours with City, and shines on the international stage with Spain at next summer’s Euros, he could be one to watch in the race for the Ballon d’Or in 2024.