Alexia Putellas and Karim Benzema have been named the 2022 Ballon d’Or winners at the annual football awards ceremony in Paris.
Putellas retains her title as the world’s best women’s player after leading Barcelona to another Spanish title, scoring 18 goals in the process. Barça won all 30 of their league games and also won the Spanish Cup and Super Cup, but lost the Women’s Champions League final to Lyon and she missed the Euros after suffering an ACL injury.
“I’m very happy to be back here,” Putellas said. “Winning last year pushed me to want to be even better. Without my teammates, this wouldn’t have been possible. I want to thank the coaches and technical staff who help me to improve every day.”
Benzema has won the men’s award for the first time after leading Real Madrid to the Spanish title and their 14th European Cup. The 34-year-old scored 27 goals in La Liga and was also the top scorer in the Champions League with 15. Ten of those goals came in the knockout stages, including hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea. He is the first French winner of the award since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.
After receiving a huge ovation from the crowd, Benzema said: “This prize in front of me makes me really proud. I never gave up, it was a childhood dream. There was a difficult period where I wasn’t in the France team, but I kept working hard. I kept in my head this joy of playing football; I’m really proud of my journey here.”
The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, tweeted “KB9!” with a French flag after the result. Macron then posted a second tweet which read: “Two letters and a number that will go down in football history. Twenty-four years after Zidane, Karim Benzema brings a new Ballon d’Or to France. Congratulations to him!”
Beth Mead finished second in the women’s vote after helping England to glory at Euro 2022. The Arsenal forward scored six goals and added five assists to win the tournament’s golden boot and best player awards.
The Australia and Chelsea forward Sam Kerr came third, ahead of the Germany and Wolfsburg midfielder Lena Oberdorf. Putellas’s Spain and Barça teammate Aitana Bonmatí completed the top five.
Sadio Mané, who left Liverpool for Bayern Munich this summer, came second in the men’s vote and won the Socrates award for his charitable work in Senegal. The Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne finished third, his highest placing to date ahead of Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah.
Lewandowski, who joined Barcelona from Bayern Munich this summer, came fourth in the men’s ranking and also won the Gerd Müller trophy for the world’s best forward. “I want to thank my teammates from both Bayern and Barça, because I know how hard we have to work to score the goals,” he said.
Salah placed fifth, with the PSG forward Kylian Mbappé in sixth. Thibaut Courtois won the Lev Yashin trophy for the world’s best goalkeeper and placed seventh overall, with his Real Madrid teammates Vinícius Júnior and Luka Modric in eighth and ninth place. Erling Haaland (10th) finished in the top 10 for the first time.
The Spain and Barcelona midfielder Gavi won the Kopa trophy for the best men’s under-21 player, following the success of his teammate Pedri last season. Manchester City were named club of the year after Pep Guardiola’s side won their fourth Premier League title in five seasons.
Changes to the format of the awards, which are organised by France Football magazine, meant that for the first time, performances were judged across the 2021-22 season rather than the calendar year. The men’s judging panel was also reduced from 170 to 100, with 50 judges for the women’s prize.