Where does Karim Benzema rank among the 2022 Ballon d’Or contenders?

Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Diego Souto/ Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Karim Benzema (Photo by Diego Souto/ Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
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Karim Mostafa Benzema. It’s a hugely popular name in the world of football at the moment. It’s a name on everyone’s lips. It’s a name that has found a place to be spoken of alongside the very best in the game. It’s a name that deserves to win a Ballon d’Or. That begs the question: where does the Real Madrid No. 9 rank among all the 2022 Ballon d’Or contenders thus far?

Benzema actually has a strong case as far as his chances of winning the 2022 Ballon d’Or are concerned. He already has 50 goal contributions this season (37 goals, 13 assists) in just 37 appearances. That is simply incredible. It is only normal for people to talk about Benzema being a potential contender for the next Ballon d’Or given his ethereal form. He’s been almost unplayable.

Now, coming back to the question at the end of the first paragraph. This season, there are many players who might be real contenders to win the coveted individual accolade come the end of the season. Let’s take a look at the top 10 contenders for the Ballon d’Or, and where Big Benz ranks among them.

10. Christopher Nkunku (CAM/ST, RB Leipzig)

Yes, Christopher Nkunku has made this list. Signed from Paris Saint-Germain for just €13 million (an absolute steal), Nkunku couldn’t do much during his first two seasons, scoring a paltry 12 goals. But this season, he has taken off and never looked back. In 41 games this season, the Frenchman has 27 goals and 17 assists to his name.

As good as he has been in the league (16 goals and 13 assists), it was his Champions League exploits that place him in 10th place on the list. Nkunku scored a hattrick against Manchester City in a 6-3 defeat in the Group Stage. He even scored and assisted a goal each in a 2-2 draw against his former team PSG. Although he couldn’t help RB Leipzig proceed to the Round of 16, he ended the campaign with seven goals and two assists in 531 minutes of UCL.

In Bundesliga, he has goal contributions against top teams like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayer Leverkusen, proving to be a big-game player for RB Leipzig, who are currently enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run, during which Nkunku has scored six times and laid on four goals for his teammates.

It will be interesting to see if he can hit 50 goal contributions by the end of the season.

9. Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB, Liverpool)

Is there a better full-back, let alone a right-back, than Trent Alexander-Arnold in the world at the moment? The Liverpool man has been extraordinary. In fact, ever since I started watching football, I haven’t seen a right-back producing such numbers in a four-man defence. Trent is on a different plane altogether.

In 36 games, the 23-year-old has two goals and 17 assists (!) in all competitions. Not just that, but we all know that he is Liverpool’s primary set-piece taker. In addition to his evident offensive prowess, he has improved defensively too.

Talking about the top five European Leagues, here are the stats where Trent Alexander-Arnold is among the leaders (stats according to FBRef):

  • Joint-3rd in assists (11)
  • 3rd in xA/expected assists (9.6)
  • Joint-3rd in xA per 90 (0.37)
  • 5th in key passes (76)
  • Joint-2nd in passes into penalty area (73)
  • 1st in progressive passes (238)
  • Joint-1st in through balls completed (17)
  • Joint-5th in shot-creating actions (128)
  • 4th in touches (2413)

Those are very, very impressive numbers for a full-back. It shows how big of an impact Trent has on Liverpool’s attack. He is the only defender to make this list, and deservedly so.