Since the Ballon d’Or, conceived by journalist Gabriel Hanot, made its debut in 1956, there has been that hype about who is named the best football player in Europe and the world annually. The razzmatazz has intensified following the creation of the FIFA World Player of the Year (now The Best FIFA Men’s Player) in 1991 and the expansion of the Ballon d’Or criteria to become a global award in 1995 and 2007, respectively.
So, as the business end of the 2021/2022 football season and the halfway point in 2022 approaches, the big question is: who is the best player (so far) in the world in 2022?
Who is the best player in the world now?
There is no consensus about this, and it is tough to determine this right now. This is because the year 2022 is still ongoing, and the various club and national competitions are still ongoing. Also, there is the likelihood that asides from the Ballon d’Or, other awards such as The Best FIFA Men’s Player may hold at the end of the year instead of the September/October date because the FIFA World Cup, the greatest football competition in the world, is scheduled to hold in Qatar between November-December 2022.
However, the Ballon d’Or trophy holder for the men is Lionel Messi of Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain. At the same time, 2021’s The Best FIFA Men’s Player is Robert Lewandowski of Poland and Bayern Munich.
Who is the best player now: Messi or Ronaldo?
No rivalry in world football has outwitted that made from the 70s to 90s between Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, and the late Diego Armando Maradona in recent times other than that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Since 2008, Messi and Ronaldo have directly and indirectly gone up against each other in terms of performance, rightfully making both of them the best players in the world.
They have dominated world football for over a decade, notched up an incredible number of goals, and consistently displayed brilliance and skills. They have also demonstrated their leadership abilities by producing match-winning goals and performances at the highest level.
Messi has won seven Ballons d’Or, while Ronaldo has gotten five; the Argentine purist has claimed six FIFA World Player of the Year/The Best FIFA Men’s Player, while the Portuguese superstar has gotten five. Messi has been awarded six compared to Ronaldo’s four in terms of the European Golden Boot. Little wonder that fans and pundits globally regularly argue about the individual merits of both players.
Messi and Ronaldo: 2021/2022 statistics
Although Messi is the current holder of the Ballon d’Or trophy, the question about who is the best player currently between him and his Portuguese counterpart is touch-and-go. This is because both players are having quite an indifferent season.
For instance, Messi has played 21 times for PSG in the Ligue 1 this season and scored just three goals, well below the lofty standard he established. He did not score in the single Coupe de France (French Cup) he played. In the UEFA Champions League, he made seven appearances and scored five goals, but his efforts were not enough as PSG crashed out of the competition.
Messi has appeared for PSG 29 times this season, scoring just eight goals as of press time. Despite PSG leading the Ligue 1 table, the Argentine supremo struggled to stamp his imprint on his Parisian club.
Regarding the national team, La Pulga Atomica, who hails from Rosario, has played twice, scoring once.
On the other hand, Ronaldo has made 26 Premier League appearances for Manchester United and netted 15 goals. As he is fondly called in Nigeria, Ororo scored no goal in his single appearance for his club in the FA Cup. His goal-scoring ability was certainly on display in the UEFA Champions League as he scored six goals in seven games.
As of press time, his total is 21 goals in 34 appearances for the Manchester-based club, which is an appreciable goal tally based on previous performances. But his goal tally has been insignificant, as United are out of the reckoning for the Premier League title and have crashed out of both the UCL and the FA Cup, respectively.
CR7, just like his archrival, has played twice for his national team, but the Maderia-born player has not found the back of the net yet.
Top 10 best players in the world in 2022
There is no definitive list or even criteria to determine the best player or footballers for a particular year. Unlike sports such as tennis and table tennis, football does not have a system to determine the ranking of players. All the rankings at the awards mentioned above are done on a subjective basis.
Subsequently, the top 10 best players in the world currently, as stated in this piece, were also picked subjectively, considering the footballer’s abilities and performances so far.
- 10. Luka Modric (Croatia and Real Madrid)
- 9. Sadio Mane (Senegal and Liverpool)
- 8. Erling Haaland (Norway and Borrusia Dortmund)
- 7. Lionel Messi (Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain)
- 6. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal and Manchester United)
- 5. Mohamed Salah (Egypt and Liverpool)
- 4. Robert Lewandowski (Poland and Bayern Munich)
- 3. Kevin de Brunye (Belgium and Manchester City)
- 2. Kylian Mbappé (France and Paris Saint-Germain)
- 1. Karim Benzema (France and Real Madrid)
Is Mbappé the best player in the world now?
Mbappé is a dazzling player and currently has the world at his feet. Since his breakout season in 2015/2016 with Monaco, the career trajectory of the Paris-born player has been upward. His spectacular performance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in which he helped France win the tournament and scooped the competition’s Best Young Player Award, only raised his profile and value across the world higher.
Regarding his status in 2022, Mbappé has a shout to be duly considered as one of the best players in the world at the moment. In a season where Messi, the club’s star signing, has struggled for form in Paris and Neymar has been plagued by injuries, Mbappé has been the star player for PSG by literally carrying the club on his back and winning games for them through his goals.
As of press time, he has played 29 league games for PSG this season and scored 21 goals. He has also played three times in the Coupe de France and netted five times. In the UEFA Champions League, he netted six times in eight appearances. So far, Mbappe has scored 32 goals in 40 games for his club this season, which is quite impressive. For the national team, he scored twice in just one game.
Mbappe continues to intimidate his opponents with his dribbling, speed and finishing – which has been devastating – this season. He is undoubtedly on the right path to claiming either the Ballon d’Or or The Best FIFA Men’s Player award this year, especially as PSG are set to win Ligue 1 and the FIFA World Cup is on his horizon.