The recently released Ballon d’Or top 30 list is the biggest topic of conversation in football right now but at least five of the players on it should not have made it.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of the year again, Ballon d’Or season is upon us and there will be continuous discussions about the nominees and the winner of the award itself.
The list of nominees for the 2023 instalment of the award includes 30 players and has led to discussions about the notable exclusions and surprise inclusions.
Here is a list of five players whose inclusion in the Ballon d’Or nominations list ranges from surprising to problematic.
5 players who should not have made the Ballon d’Or list.
The following five players in no particular order have made the top 30 list ahead of others who deserve it more.
Josko Gvardiol is undoubtedly one of the best young defenders in world football right now, rubberstamped by his £77.6 million transfer to Manchester City in the summer window.
However, the above fact does not automatically qualify the Croatian as a top 30 football player in the world especially when it comes to the year in review.
The 21-year-old played 41 games across all competitions for RB Leipzig in the 2022/23 season and all seven games for Croatia en route to a bronze medal at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
And although he admittedly handled himself quite well for club and country during the time in consideration, Gvardiol is not currently one of the 30 best players in the world, especially when the likes of Enzo Fernandez and Marcus Rashford did not make it.
To compare Gvardiol to another defender, Lisandro Martinez who was a staple in the Manchester United squad and also won the World Cup with Argentina did not make the list.
Kin Min Jae
In the 2022/23 season, Kim Min Jae was one of the best central defenders in the world based on his performances for Napoli and South Korea.
His inclusion would normally not be considered a problematic one if it was not in place of the aforementioned Lisandro Martinez.
Kim was very good last season but not better than Martinez, both individually and in terms of team achievements.
If the Argentine was not considered good enough to be a top 30 footballer in the world, then neither should Kim Min Jae.
There’s no denying the fact that Jamal Musiala is already a special talent who will develop into one of the very best footballers in the world at some point.
But the truth is that time is not right now, and it feels as though the 20-year-old whose club and country were underwhelming during the period in consideration is being shoehorned into these conversations.
Musiala scored 16 goals in 47 games for a Bayern side that crashed out of both the UEFA Champions League and the DFB Pokal while also needing a Borussia Dortmund screwup to win the Bundesliga on the last day of the season.
He also played all three games for Germany at the 2022 FIFA World Cup which ended in an underwhelming group-stage exit in Qatar.
This CV doesn’t scream ‘Ballon d’Or nominee’ and his inclusion was quite frankly surprising, especially with the calibre of players that didn’t make it.
Randal Kolo Muani
Randal Kolo Muani is a fine player, his recent €90 million transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt to Paris Saint Germain backs that assertion but does it also qualify him as a top 30 player in the world based on last season?
The answer is most likely no.
He was great for Eintracht Frankfurt last season and earned himself a World Cup spot with losing finalists, France, albeit as a late replacement for injured players.
Kolo Muani’s potential is huge, and his performances last season were good as well but not good enough to be listed here, especially ahead of the likes of Marcus Rashford and Rafael Leao.
The 24-year-old striker scored 16 league goals last time around and his main World Cup highlight was missing a potential game-winning in the dying minutes of the final.
Bernardo Silva’s status as a football magician is unquestionable but these annual awards are based on the year in consideration and not reputation.
And with that in mind, was Bernardo Silva even the best Manchester City forward last season?
Let alone a top 30 player who makes this list ahead of teammates Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez.
The Portuguese scored seven goals and had eight assists in 55 games across all competitions for Manchester City in a treble-winning season.
He neither scored nor assisted at the World Cup in which Portugal got knocked out in the quarterfinals.