Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are the two top contenders for the 2023 Ballon d’Or. It’s still early days as far as the race for the 2023 edition of football’s most coveted individual prize is concerned. But both these players have already had a profound impact on proceedings for both club and country in the 2022-23 season.

After having fired Argentina to World Cup glory, Messi currently seems well placed to take home a record-bettering eighth Ballon d’Or. However, things won’t be all that straightforward for him as his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe is also in the process of making a great case for himself.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at five reasons why Mbappe deserves to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Messi in 2023.

#5 Best player in the 2022 FIFA World Cup

While Messi won the Golden Ball at the 2022 FIFA World Cup given to the best player in the tournament, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Mbappe deserved it just as much. The French forward scored eight goals and provided two assists in seven appearances in Qatar.

He scored a brilliant hat-trick in the World Cup final against Argentina. After being 2-0 down until the 80th minute, Mbappe pulled France back into the game when everyone had written them off. It is easily one of the best individual performances in a World Cup final in history.

Mbappe’s goals and the sheer havoc he wreaks with his pace and trickery is what gave France the edge in the tournament. Messi, on the other hand, received a lot more support from his Argentinian teammates.

Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo Nazario, who also won the Golden Boot at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, believes Mbappe should have won the Golden Ball at the World Cup. He told Apostagolos (via Sportskeeda):

“The player who impressed me the most is Kylian Mbappรฉ. He had an excellent World Cup, from the first match to the final. Even when he hasn’t scored, be it against England in the quarter-finals or against Morocco in the semi-finals, he has always performed well delivering assists.”

He added:

โ€œAnd in the final, he was extraordinary in scoring four goals because I also count his shot on goal. Technically, he’s above the pack, he’s almost unstoppable and he should have been named the World Cup’s best player because he richly deserves it.”

#4 Golden Boot winner at the World Cup

Chief among Mbappe’s achievements in the 2022-23 season is his winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup. He scored a whopping eight goals at football’s showpiece event in Qatar. A key factor is that he outscored Messi in the World Cup.

That’s as many goals as Ronaldo Nazario scored in the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He went on to win the Ballon d’Or that year. It’s definitely a defining achievement that ought to give Mbappe at least parity with respect to Messi in the race for the Ballon d’Or.

#3 Mbappe is likely to finish the season as PSG’s top scorer

Mbappe spearheads PSG’s attack and his incredible goalscoring form is expected to propel them to glory this season. While Messi’s playmaking is perhaps equally as important, without Mbappe’s lethality inside the final third, Christophe Galtier’s side are unlikely to be as good as they are.

The Frenchman has scored 20 goals and has racked up five assists in 22 appearances in all competitions for the Parisians so far this season. He is very likely to finish as the top scorer in Ligue 1 and possibly even the Champions League. Mbappe has already scored seven goals in Europe’s elite competition.

#2 Mbappe is more likely to keep performing at the highest level in the second half of the season

Mbappe is just 24 and is in his prime. In fact, he has plenty more years at the top and he is at his tireless best right now. He can play week in and week out without compromising on intensity. On the other hand, it’s quite surprising that Messi is playing at an elite level at the age of 35.

However, having already navigated a hectic set of fixtures in the first half of the season, it wouldn’t be surprising if he doesn’t replicate the same levels in the second. As such, Mbappe is more likely to finish the season on a better note and that could affect Messi adversely in the race for the 2023 Ballon d’Or.

#1 Mbappe is PSG’s main man in attack

Mbappe is likely to earn a lot of accolades in the second half of the season as PSG’s attacks are centered around him. Messi plays more of a supporting role and while he is key to their game in the final third, Mbappe is more likely to steal the show.

If PSG win some major trophies at the end of the season, Mbappe is likely to play a more patent role in it than Messi. This is a player who scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final after all and is also in great form.

If PSG do win a lot of trophies at the end of the season, Mbappe is likely to have played more of a starring role in it than Messi.