The 2022 Ballon d'Or is upon us, and while fans are eagerly waiting for France Football's prestigious ceremony, the outcome looks to have already been leaked online.
Well-known Spanish publication Marca have published a report in which they announce the winners of this year's major prizes hours before the event even kicks off. According to them, the highly-anticipated 2022 Men's Ballon d'Or will go to none other than Karim Benzema.
This will come as little surprise given the Frenchman's heroics last season, leading Real Madrid to both domestic and continental glory. Not only did the Spanish giants win La Liga last term, but Ancelotti's men also lifted the UEFA Champions League title in what was an unforgettable campaign from Los Blancos, beating PSG, Chelsea, Man City, and finally Liverpool en route to the trophy.
The 34-year-old scored a whopping 44 goals in 46 appearances across all competitions in 2021/22 and is thus the odds-on favorite to follow in the footsteps of Luka Modric to become the first player besides Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to win this award in the last decade.
Speaking of Messi and Ronaldo, Marca claim that this will be the first time in 16 years that neither the Portuguese nor Argentine superstars make the top three. La Pulga did not even make the 30-man shortlist while the Manchester United superstar made the cut but to no avail.
Instead, Benzema will be joined in the top three by Robert Lewandowski, the former Bayern Munich sensation who has since joined Barcelona, and Sadio Mane, the former Liverpool star who moved to the Allianz Arena over the summer.
Additionally, Karim isn't the only Santiago Bernabeu ace set to pick up an award on Monday as Thibaut Courtois will reportedly win the Yashin Trophy, which honors the best goalkeeper of the season. The Belgian ace, who was named Man of the Match in the UEFA Champions League final against Klopp's side, has allegedly beaten the likes of Alisson at Liverpool, Man City's Ederson, and 2021 Africa Cup of Nations champion Edouard Mendy.
The other major award leaked is the Kepa Trophy, which is for the best-performing under-21 player, and while this prize won't go to a Real Madrid player, it will reportedly be another win for La Liga. Marca write that this accolade will go to Barcelona starlet Gavi, a decision which has garnered controversy as the likes of Jamal Musiala, Jude Bellingham, and Bukayo Saka were also in the running for this prize.
Meanwhile, Barcelona sensation Alexia Putellas is tipped to successfully defend her Women's Ballon d'Or crown, having won the lovely gong last year. The Spaniard enjoyed another stellar 2021/22 campaign but her absence from the UEFA Women's Euro over the summer made things tricky. Arsenal and England ace Beth Mead and Lyon's Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg are her stiffest competition.