The Ballon d’Or has as of late shifted to a (much more suitable) format, now reviewing a season rather than a calendar year. However, there is still something rather charming about looking at football over a calendar year, hence the 2022 year-end Cyler Awards.
This week we put a full stop on this year’s awards with a final ceremony with a countdown starting from thirty. We have seen the top five leagues individually, but we have not seen them together. It’s time to award the 2022 Cyler d’Or. Not any regional variant, this is not just for Ligue 1, or Serie A, or any other league. Worldwide.
Of the thirty man shortlist, twenty-five will be the twenty-five players who received honours during the course of the 2022 Cyler Awards, giving us a clean split of five players from each of Europe’s top leagues. The remaining five will be handpicked from the players who missed out on the awards.
Let’s see how they stack up.
5. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium)
England’s regional Cyler d’Or winner, Kevin De Bruyne has had a fantastic 2022. Returning to form after a weak start to the 21/22 season, De Bruyne became the centre of the attack in the absence of a striker. With the coming of Erling Haaland and a new more purely creative role, De Bruyne has adapted masterfully, adding yet another set of beautiful performances to his legacy of creativity.
The Belgian international did fail to make an impact at the World Cup but it was not down to his own poor performances, it was a rather collective failure at the hands of the entire team and manager Roberto Martínez.
4. Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Kylian Mbappé enjoyed a ridiculous 21/22 Ligue 1 season, ending the season with 45 goals in 28 games, an unbelievable number. His form during the 22/23 season has seen a dip but it’s not one that’s huge by any regard, just a decrease from the ridiculous numbers we saw from him in the season prior.
Mbappé showed he is not declining by any means with a fantastic World Cup for France, including perhaps the greatest losing performance of all time in a World Cup Final, where he scored a clutch hat-trick to help take the game into penalties.
3. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich/FC Barcelona, Poland)
Robert Lewandowski had an up-and-down 21/22 season. His season fell well short of expectations individually and trophy-wise, but those expectations were ridiculous to begin with. He still ended the season with a ridiculous amount of Champions League goals (if he were to make it to the Final, at his goal/game ratio he would’ve broken the record for most goals in a Champions League season), and scored the third most amount of goals in a single Bundesliga season ever (behind only Lewandowski’s own 20/21 season and Gerd Müller over half a century ago).
Lewandowski transferred to FC Barcelona in the summer and immediately picked up where he left off, putting the limp Catalan attack on his back. Lewandowski’s arrival has heralded the improvement of all the attackers around him through his link-up play and ability on the ball, and Lewandowski himself has not missed a step in keeping his scoring going.
2. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France)
The 2022 Ballon d’Or and (more importantly) the winner of the 2022 regional Cyler d’Or for Spain, Karim Benzema has had quite a year.
Becoming the ultimate escape artist for Real during the 21/22 season, he made it a habit to magic his way out of unwinnable situations time and time again. He has struggled to start consistently this season but in all of the games he has played he has been fantastic, continuing his run at the top of football.
It hasn’t been a season consisting completely of highs, but the highs Benzema experienced were beyond that of any other player. Barring one.
1. Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain, Argentina)
The winner of the regional Cyler d’Or for France, one of the greatest players to ever touch the game.
Lionel Andrés Messi.
Messi was another player who started the 21/22 season poorly, but with the coming of the new year Messi shifted up the gears into top form once again, upping his creativity especially. With the start of the 22/23 season, Messi shifted up the gears into a form we thought we’d never see again, matching the ungodly form we saw from him a decade ago. Running games for PSG, his moves in the final third made defenses tremble and shake. A perfect year had its final test: the Qatar World Cup.
Messi passed the test with flying colours, capping his career beautifully with a World Cup trophy. That achievement marks the perfect capstone to his year, too. Your 2022 Cyler d’Or winner is Lionel Messi.
What do you think of my picks? Is there any order you would’ve changed? Let us know in the discussion below.