Despite a strong Liverpool case, an overlooked adjustment in the Ballon d’Or criteria may force Mohamed Salah to wait.
Mohamed Salah has plenty of opportunity in the past to improve his Ballon d’Or case. The Liverpool man will now probably have to wait for a lot longer.
Mohamed Salah is still egregiously underrated by the greater football community, as is obvious at this time of year. No one connected to Liverpool doubts his ongoing world-class skills, but it is clear that he is being held to a much higher standard than others as the season’s final accolades are announced.
When selecting his Team of the Season, Gary Neville passed over Salah from Liverpool. Salah has previously been omitted from the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year shortlist. The best individual prize in sports is without a doubt the Ballon d’Or, but neither of them is likely to worry the Egyptian very much.
Salah narrowly garnered enough votes to finish in seventh place, which was a very perplexing result when the award was revealed in 2021. The representative of Liverpool admitted to being “shocked” at the result.
Salah has never even made it into the top three, unlike his current and former teammates Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mané, although he has been happy with a few fifth-place results.
Given how poorly Liverpool has done as a team in 2022–23, including in part due to Erling Haaland’s troubling performance, his chances of winning the upcoming edition of the award seem slim.
Only Kylian Mbappé and the Manchester City player have scored and assisted on more goals than Salah this season across all competitions, so given the context, Salah has actually made a pretty strong personal case.
Salah had the opportunity to raise such numbers in the past. At the start of 2023–24, he might have been in the mix, with at least a top–three finish perhaps within reach with additional strong performances. Even if not everyone has yet realized it, the Ballon d’Or recently changed the criteria.
With the most recent iteration of the award, the Ballon d’Or is now evaluated throughout the course of a season rather than a calendar year, putting it on par with other footballing honors. The ceremony will now take place between 2022 and 2023, having been moved up a few months.
Again, despite what some might believe given the season that is about to end, Salah’s situation is actually much better. However, it is clear that he will continue to be denied the honor in 2023 that he would be so keen to add to his resume. With time, it will become evident how severe of a punishment he received this time.
But there is one promising development. At least Salah can conclude Liverpool’s disappointing season thanks to the season-based criterion.
The club is predicted to start off well after a few shrewd transfer market additions, giving the Egyptian a clean slate on which to present his argument. He won’t be able to catch up to Haaland.
Salah, on the other hand, won’t be 32 when the prize is given out. His opportunity to win the Ballon d’Or is dwindling. Hopefully, this means that Liverpool will receive a significantly more driven version of the player when the new campaign gets underway, though Jürgen Klopp is aware that he can always rely on consistency from his talisman.