Arsenal stars Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard have been included in the 30-man shortlist for the 2023 Ballon d’Or.
The award, which is now based on performances over the season as opposed to the calendar year, will be given out at the end of October, with Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland the leading candidates after their respective efforts in 2022/23.
It’s nonetheless a hugely proud moment for both Arsenal players, with the pair enjoying exceptional individual campaigns as the Gunners exceeded expectations and challenged Manchester City for the Premier League title.
For Saka, his Ballon d’Or nomination comes just days after he was named England Men’s Player of the Year and the PFA Young Player of the Year.
2 Gunners nominated forthe 2023 Ballon d’Or
While Saka continued on his upward trajectory, 2022/23 was a coming-of-age campaign for Odegaard, who was named Arsenal’s captain ahead of the season. The Nordic creator led from the front and registered an impressive 15 Premier League goals as well as eight assists.
Saka, meanwhile, achieved the rare feat of notching double-digit goals and assists in the top flight as he scored 14 times and set others up on 11 occasions.
When you see some of the other names shortlisted for the award, a greater appreciation for the calibre of player the Gunners now boast swiftly takes hold. Saka, a Hale End graduate, and Odegaard, written off by so many when he signed for the club permanently in 2021, now sit alongside the greatest to ever do it on the shortlist for the most prestigious individual award the sport has to offer.
Drink it in.
There’s also Arsenal representation in the 30-woman shortlist for the Ballon d’Or Femenin as Katie McCabe, the club’s 2022/23 Player of the Year, and Amanda Ilestedt, who joined Arsenal last summer and enjoyed an excellent Women’s World Cup with Sweden, earned nominations. Both are aiming to follow in the footsteps of Beth Mead, who finished second to Alexia Putellas in last year’s award.
Oh, and we’re not done there. Aaron Ramsdale also became the first Arsenal goalkeeper to be nominated for the Yashin Trophy (best-performing goalkeeper). He’s one of ten shot-stoppers shortlisted, with four current Premier League keepers making the cut.