The Ballon d’Or winners will be crowned on October 17, so let the countdown commence.
The men’s and women’s shortlists were released last month, with no room for Lionel Messi, Neymar, Keira Walsh or Caroline Graham Hansen, and now we know the nominees it is time to start picking those lists apart.
But first, a quick explainer as to why your favourite player may have placed lower than you like – the voting system means points are very hard to pick up, with each jury member asked to pick only a top five by awarding the following:
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  • First: Six points
  • Second: Four points
  • Third: Three points
  • Fourth: Two points
  • Fifth: One point
There were 170 journalists voting in 2021, making a maximum 1020 points possible and evidently the voting is top-heavy and the margins are fine, with the more obvious candidates racking up hundreds more points than those outside the top 10.
For example. Last year, Cesar Azpilicueta and Luka Modric finished joint-29th with zero points, the two men’s players in joint-21st - Bruno Fernandes and Lautaro Martinez – received just six points, while Raheem Sterling was able to place 15th with 10 points. Erling Haaland finished 11th with 33 points.
In contrast, Lionel Messi took the award with 613 points ahead of the 580 Robert Lewandowski picked up.
And so, with one obvious men’s winner this season, there could be a fair few more scoring nul points unless they sneak into a top five list or two.
Oh, and the fact that France Football has reduced the number of journalists voting from 170 to 100 – one from each of the Fifa top-100 ranked nations – means there is an even smaller chance of players picking up random points.
So here goes…

Men’s Ballon d’Or: Our 30-23 predictions

30. Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

2021-22 highlights – 12 assists, Bundesliga winner, Bundesliga Team of the Season
Sorry, Kimmich, but you start our list of players we expect to miss out on scoring points. It is worth reiterating again that voters are picking their top five, and so the 27-year-old is unlikely to have turned heads beyond Germany when it comes to listing the five best players in the world.
That said, he remains a constant for Bayern Munich, adding to his league medal collection and earning a spot in Bundesliga’s team of the season for a fifth straight year.

29. Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)

2021-22 highlights – 10 assists, Premier Leaguer winner, PFA Team of the Year
Only Azpilicueta and Modric scored zero points last season, and though Cancelo boasts a wand of a right foot that assisted Manchester City to another league title – and Erling Haaland’s stunner on Wednesday night – the 28-year-old would do well to break into the top 20.

28. Fabinho (Liverpool)

2021-22 highlights – FA Cup and EFL Cup winner, Champions League Team of the Season
The man who kick-started the semi-final comeback at Villarreal ended the campaign in the Champions League Team of the Season, but the Brazilian’s slow start to 2022-23 – although that should not technically have an impact on voting – could see him largely overlooked.

27. Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid)

2021-22 highlights – PFA Team of the Year, Champions League Team of the Season
The 29-year-old emerged as one of the world’s best centre-backs in 2021-22, and that added weight to his contract negotiations with Chelsea and beyond. Eventually, it resulted in a move to Real Madrid, after he made teams of the season both domestically and in Europe. Whether that gets him votes, though, is another matter entirely.

26. Phil Foden (Manchester City)

2021-22 highlights – 14 goals, 11 assists, Premier League winner, PFA and PL Young Player of the Year
By no means are we questioning the 22-year-old’s talent, but last year he picked up just two points in the Ballon d’Or voting and it is tough to see journalists beyond these shores opting to make the England and Manchester City forward a top-five pick.

Phil Foden of Manchester City celebrates after scoring their side's second goal with Joao Cancelo during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Sevilla FC and Manchester City at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan

Image credit: Getty Images

25. Harry Kane (Tottenham)

2021-22 highlights – 27 goals, 10 assists, crucial double against Arsenal in May
It was four points for Kane last season, and so there is a chance the 29-year-old sneaks fourth or fifth on a couple of lists again. He did however finish behind team-mate Son Heung-min in the goalscoring rankings, and the South Korean could prove to be a more popular choice with voters.

24. Mike Maignan (AC Milan)

2021-22 highlights – 19 clean sheets, Serie A winner and voted league’s best goalkeeper
The 27-year-old was integral to AC Milan ending their wait for a Serie A title, conceding just 21 in 32 league games, with nine clean sheets in their last 11 matches proving crucial. That could get noticed by a journalist or two, but unless the voters are truly part of their Goalkeeper’s Union then their vote for a shotstopper is likely to go to a certain Belgian who won the Champions League and La Liga.

23. Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)

2021-22 highlights – 35 goals, 20 assists, DFB-Pokal winner, Bundesliga Team of the Season, Bundesliga Player of the Season
The 24-year-old boasted a stunning return of 55 G/A last season, and has started the current campaign in fine form as well. RB Leipzig dug in their heels to keep the French striker, and if continues in this fashion he should climb the list in the years to come.

Christopher Nkunku

Image credit: Getty Images

The remaining 22
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
  • Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
  • Casemiro (Real Madrid)
  • Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
  • Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
  • Luis Diaz (Liverpool)
  • Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
  • Sebastien Haller (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)
  • Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
  • Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
  • Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich)
  • Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
  • Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
  • Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
  • Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
  • Heung-min Son (Tottenham)
  • Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
  • Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus)
  • Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)

Women’s Ballon d’Or: Our 20-17 predictions

Onto the Ballon d’Or Feminin, where 20 players were shortlisted, with 50 journalists having their say.
So that’s fewer players to choose from and fewer journalists voting. Right…

20. Kadidiatou Diani (PSG)

2021-22 highlights – 16 goals
The forward bagged a goal in France’s Euro 2022 win over Belgium but may struggle to pick up points given the competition, having also been outscored at club level by compatriot Marie-Antoinette Katoto, a top-five contender.

19. Selma Bacha (Lyon)

2021-22 highlights – Champions League and Division 1 winner
It was arguably a breakthrough campaign for Bacha given the increase in appearances she made for Lyon, and after she made her France debut last year the 21-year-old earned nine more caps in 2022. Again, like those joining her in our 20-16 list, her club team-mates are likely to overshadow her.

18. Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)

2021-22 highlights – NWSL Championship winner in 2021, NWSL Rookie of the Year in 2021, NWSL Best XI and CONCACAF W Championship winner in 2022
The 20-year-old is arguably the future of USA having enjoyed a breakthrough year, making her senior international debut in February and featuring in their summer CONCACAF W Championship triumph. The 2022 National Women's Soccer League season continues apace, but a league-high spate of draws mean Washington Spirit are all-but out of contention.

Trinity Rodman

Image credit: Getty Images

17. Fridolina Rolfo (Barcelona)

2021-22 highlights – Primera Division winner, 10 league assists
Like Diani above, Rolfo could be overlooked given the team-mates she has for company in this list – and speaking of, somehow Caroline Graham Hansen was completely snubbed as well.
The remaining 16
  • Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona)
  • Millie Bright (Chelsea)
  • Lucy Bronze (Barcelona)
  • Christiane Endler (Lyon)
  • Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)
  • Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG)
  • Sam Kerr (Chelsea)
  • Catarina Macario (Lyon)
  • Beth Mead (Arsenal)
  • Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
  • Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave)
  • Lena Oberdorf (Wolfsburg)
  • Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona)
  • Alexandra Popp (Wolfsburg)
  • Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
  • Wendie Renard (Lyon)
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