Friday, June 21, 2024
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Three Early Favourites For 2024 Ballon d’Or

Although the winner of the 2023 Ballon d’Or was announced only a few months ago, six months have passed since the world’s finest footballers began competing for the next edition of the prestigious accolade! Lionel Messi claimed the award last time out, after captaining Argentina to 2022 FIFA World Cup glory, but who are the early contenders for this year’s prize? Bayern Munich forward Harry Kane has put in a number of eye-catching performances since arriving in Germany, while Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham is arguably the best midfielder on the planet at the moment. Kylian Mbappe, though, is leading the scoring charts across Europe’s top five leagues and could finally get his hands on the sport’s most illustrious individual trophy if he keeps it up! Readers, join Soccer Laduma’s Kurt Buckerfield in analysing the seasons these incredibly talented and in-form players are having.

Harry Kane (Bayern Munich/England)

Although it’s unsurprising to see Kane scoring regularly in the Bundesliga, his individual performances so far are likely to warrant him a place among the top places when October comes around. Kane, 30, signed for Bayern Munich in August last year, perhaps unexpectedly, leaving Tottenham Hotspur, the Premier League and the opportunity to equal Alan Shearer’s all-time goal record behind, and immediately hit the ground running with a league debut goal in a 4-0 victory over Werder Bremen. In 22 Bundesliga matches since the beginning of the campaign, Kane has netted 25 times, while he has struck on four more occasions in the UEFA Champions League too, with his 29-goal tally across all competitions making him second on the list of the top scorers in Europe’s five strongest divisions. In league games, the former Spurs No. 10 has not gone more than one match without beating a goalkeeper, having  drawn a blank in just six Bundesliga appearances! While his brilliance might see him end the 2023/24 season with recognition on a global stage at the ceremony in Paris later this year, Kane, a fantastic team player, will want something to show for his efforts, after leaving the Lilywhites following a decade without claiming a single trophy. His first opportunity to lift silverware came during his first match for the Bavarians, which came only a day after his official arrival in Germany, but it wasn’t to be for England’s record goalscorer. Thomas Tuchel’s side suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat to RB Leipzig in the DFL Supercup, a result that put even more pressure on the forward. Bayern currently occupy second place in the Bundesliga, eight points adrift of Bayer Leverkusen, and are in the round of 16 of the Champions League, while they were knocked out of the DFB Pokal by third-tier German team Saarbrucken in November. France Football, the organisers of the Ballon d’Or, will prioritise individual excellence more than they will collective achievements, but will playing in a league dominated by the club he represents in the past 10 years count against him when the chosen journalists cast their votes?

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