Where Rafael Leao and Christopher Nkunku finished in Ballon d’Or amid Chelsea transfer interest
Chelsea’s connections at the Ballon d’Or have all found out their overall ranking for the award. With a 30-man shortlist given, including some of the game’s top stars, an up-and-down 2022 for the Blues saw none of their current squad nominated. That comes after five players were up for the award in 2021 following their remarkable Champions League triumph.
Although nobody currently at Stamford Bridge was up for an award in Paris, former defender Antonio Rudiger was. Given that the shortlist was announced in August before the German had made his competitive debut for new club Real Madrid, his performances for Chelsea in the 2021/22 season were key to his standing.
Rudiger, who was a surprise absentee from the 2021 list after a brilliant time under Thomas Tuchel, left Chelsea earlier this year following the expiry of his contract, though there was a chance he could have remained at the club had they not become a frozen asset of Roman Abramovich under the UK government’s sanctions.
In the rankings for the men’s award, Rudiger was placed in joint 25th alongside Darwin Nunez, Joao Cancelo, Joshua Kimmich, Mike Maignan and Chelsea target Christopher Nkunku. Only two other defenders made the 30-man shortlist. Trent Alexander-Arnold – who has come in for criticism after a slow start to the season – finished 22nd whilst his Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk was ranked 16th.
Nkunku’s astonishing Bundesliga season that included 35 goal contributions across the campaign has drawn Chelsea’s attention, and football.london understands that a pre-agreement for a deal in the summer is in place. Another of Chelsea’s targets for 2023, Rafael Leao, came 14th.
Leao, who finished above Tottenham’s Harry Kane, Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic, Luis Diaz, Phil Foden and Cristiano Ronaldo, is someone the Blues are extremely interested in signing despite being unable to help AC Milan to much success in two matches against Graham Potter’s side in the Champions League.