Kylian Mbappe said it’s a “huge lie” to assume players don’t care about winning the Ballon d’Or, naming Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane as his major competitors for the prize this year.
Mbappe, who led Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 victory last season, was named to a 30-man shortlist to be voted the best player in the world on Friday.
No player in the top five European leagues surpassed Mbappe’s total of 60 goal contributions in 2021-22, however his France teammate Benzema is the clear favorite after helping Real Madrid win the Champions League and LaLiga.
Mbappe, who has previously backed Benzema to win the honor, admitted in an interview with France Football that he was desperate to be voted the world’s best.
“I’ve always wanted to do it when I was young, without limiting my possibilities. I want to win, and I’m not ashamed to confess it “He stated.
“I am confident that the first one is the most difficult to lift. It will be easy to revalidate your membership in that limited group once you have formally joined it.
“It is a myth that a footballer is uninterested in winning the Ballon d’Or. That is a hypocritical statement.
“That is something we all consider. We talk about a team and a collective because it helps to disguise our desire, but admitting that we care is honest.
“For the past two years, I’ve been a more serious contender for the honor. Previously, I was content to be in the top ten. On the other side, I am one of the four or five most consistent.
“We don’t discuss the Ballon d’Or in January, but we do make remarks when the lists come out. Later, as the ceremony approaches, it is clearly a topic of discussion in the group. We place our wagers and dispute our positions.”
When asked to choose his top three, the striker replied, “I think Benzema, Mane, and me.”
Mbappe received his first Ballon d’Or nomination in 2017, when then-Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo won the award ahead of Lionel Messi and Neymar.
And the 23-year-old stated that being among the contenders so early in his career gave him faith that he would make it to the top.
“To be honest, it was an honor,” he said. “I was barely of legal drinking age when I became acquainted with those big names. It may appear insignificant, but it was significant. A significant advancement in my job.
“It was a message that served to emphasize that I was among the finest. I recognized myself as an elite footballer in the eyes of the world, and it was crucial to be included on that list at the age of 18.”
Meanwhile, the most notable exclusion from the list of nominees for 2022 is seven-time winner and current holder Lionel Messi, who was last not nominated in 2005, when Ronaldinho defeated Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the poll.
Mbappe reflected on his PSG teammate’s success last year, saying the Argentina star’s trepidation on the day of the gala underlined his ambition to be the best.
“He was worried the morning of the last gala because he was about to get his seventh Ballon d’Or. Perhaps he was planning what he would say or how he would lift the trophy “Mbappe stated.
“I told him it was impossible to feel agitated after having been there six times before. I’d gone with a cigarette in my mouth!
“But this demonstrates that he still has the soul of a child and is eager to be the best. He has not become fatigued.”