Sole survivor of Ligue 1 among the 30 nominated for the Ballon d’Or 2022, Kylian Mbappé has never yet reached the podium of the prestigious individual distinction, despite four consecutive nominations (7th in 2017, 4th in 2018, 6th in 2019 and 9th in 2021).
While his Paris-Saint-Germain teammate and reigning winner, Lionel Messi, was not selected, the French striker gave an interview to France Football, in which he confides in his relationship with the Ballon d’ Gold. If Kylian Mbappé obviously evokes his dream of one day winning this trophy, he does not forget to dub his compatriot from Real Madrid, Karim Benzema, who should normally win the 2022 edition of the Ballon d’Or.
His first memory of the Ballon d’Or
“As for everyone of my generation, the Ballon d’Or is necessarily associated with the battle between Leo (Messi) and Cristiano (Ronaldo). Digging really deep into my memory, I remember Ronaldinho a little too ( winner in 2005). But, frankly, everything is crushed by the two gluttons who shared the prize for so long. Every year, like everyone else, I wondered which of the two would get it. When you think back on it , this mano a mano was pretty crazy. On ceremonial days, it was fun to watch them when they were next to each other. And try to guess, from their faces, which of the two looked the best. more angry or upset because he knew he didn’t win.”
How to become “balloonizable”?
“You have to be a total, complete player. Who doesn’t just stand out for his stats. You’re not necessarily the best player in the world because you score 60 goals in a season. It helps, but it’s not not enough. In addition, in my opinion, you have to prove that you are able to do a lot of things, in a lot of different situations. There are a lot of great players, very strong in one area. But the “balloonable” , for me, must be more than a great player. He must have a fairly wide range. He must be decisive, even when his team is less well. Especially when it is less well. There are quite a few to be able to rock a match almost alone. That’s also why we pay them dearly. (He smiles.) The top player must also give momentum to a whole collective, make the crowds rise up. In fact , a Ballon d’Or must be the prototype of the perfect player, the one with whom as many kids as possible want to identify because he is strong everywhere. almost. For a year, he will represent footballers around the world. This reference must therefore be irreproachable, without weak points.”
His first nomination in 2017
“Frankly, I was super proud. Barely of age, I was already associated with these “big names”. It may seem anecdotal, but for me, it was serious stuff. A real step. sent to the middle of football: “Well, now I’m here. I am one of the best.” I received my certificate of great player. It was official. You enter a first category: those who have one day been part of the thirty best players in the world. It’s starting to get serious. You belong to an elite, to a caste. There are those who are part of it and the others. And I was part of it, at 18 years old.”
His absence from the podium
“I consider that my period of 18-21 years allowed me to stabilize in the Top 10. I was not a sufficiently “impactful” player. For two years, on the other hand, I think that I have crossed a plateau, I have a more assertive status on the field, I manage better in cleaver matches. In short, I am a more credible, more serious candidate. Before, I was a curiosity, and my place in the Top 10 was a reward . Now, I obviously want more. It’s a long process. I think that now I’m one of the four or five names that come up regularly.”
The players missing from the Ballon d’Or list
“Xavi and Iniesta, it’s like they won it when Leo took them all. I remember their three-way podium (in 2010) and it felt like the Ballon d’Or belonged a bit to all three , they were so inseparable in the success of Barça. In fact, Thierry Henry of Arsenal would have deserved so much he was strong. He did not go far in 2003 (2nd, behind Nedved). He was so different from the others. ..”
Already talked about the Ballon d’Or with Messi?
“Yes, the morning of the last ceremony. He was super nervous as he went to collect his seventh trophy a few hours later. You would think he was used to it and that he was calm before such an evening. But not him. Maybe he was thinking about what he was going to say, how he was going to lift his trophy. I said to him: “But it’s not possible! Me, after six victories, I come with a cigar to the evening.” It proves that he has kept this child’s soul and that the approach of such a discount still excites him. He is not jaded. “
A Ballon d’Or bonus negotiated in his contract at PSG?
“Of course, as for all the players the club thinks has a chance of getting one. We add a carrot to you. But, frankly, if one day I win the Ballon d’Or, my bonus, that would be the last thing I would think about.”
His top 3 for 2022
“(Long thought.) I would say Benzema, me and Mané.”
Karim Benzema laureate for 2022?
“Obviously. He is 34 years old, has just had the season of his life, wins a new Champions League by often being decisive… In place of Karim, if I don’t win there, I stop thinking forever at the Ballon d’Or. (He laughs.)”