The 2022 Ballon d'Or will be like no other. Not only because it will take into account the club season rather than the calendar year, but also because it's the first time in years that everyone seems to agree on who should win the award: Karim Benzema.
In previous editions, the debate was much bigger. Last year, for instance, the ceremony was preceded by weeks of speculation and leaks that went viral on the Internet. Even after the gala, the debate continued as Lionel Messi's triumph over Robert Lewandowski sparked controversy.
But this year, Benzema looks like the undisputed frontrunner after a fantastic season, in which he recorded an impressive 44 goals in 46 appearances - playing a pivotal role in Real Madrid's double. In fact, even Benzema's competitors admit he deserves the Ballon d'Or.
Karim Benzema deserves 2022 Ballon d'Or, strong competitor says
Though all the results that so far leaked out on social media show Benzema as comfortable winner, they also have Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane in second place. However, the Senegalese star believes Benzema has to be the winner.
"Honestly, I believe Benzema deserves to win the Ballon d'Or this year. And I'm very happy for him. He had a great season with Real Madrid, even winning the Champions League," Mane told reporters after Bayern's UCL win over Viktoria Plzen.
"Winning the African Cup of Nations took a huge weight off our shoulders, for me and my country. It's something I'm extremely proud of. But I insist, I think Karim deserves the award more, I sincerely think so."
Mane also had a great year, leading his country to continental glory and also helping them secure a FIFA World Cup berth for Qatar 2022. Additionally, he 16 goals in 34 Premier League games for Liverpool before leaving for Bayern. Still, Benzema was by far the most impactful player of the season.