2022 has been an action-packed year in the world of football. The domestic season ended at the end of May and international matches started soon after.
The players are now back at their respective clubs ahead of the 2022-23 season and are currently taking part in pre-season preparations.
They won’t get much respite in the coming months, as the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off at the end of November. To say it’s been a grueling year for footballers would be an understatement. But despite this, several footballers have enjoyed playing football and even put in some of the best performances of their careers this year.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at five of the best players in the world so far this year (July 2022).
#5 Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne has missed a number of matches in the first half of the 2021-22 season due to an ankle injury and a COVID-19 crisis. He made his return in December 2021 and went on to play an important role in Manchester City’s Premier League triumph last season.
He was in sublime form for Manchester City in the first half of 2022. In 16 Premier League appearances in 2022, De Bruyne has scored 10 goals and provided seven assists. He was arguably City’s best player in their title-clinching game against Aston Villa on the final day of the 2021-22 season as well.
The Belgian international scored the only goal in Manchester City’s victory over Atletico Madrid (1-0) in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. He also found the net once in Manchester City’s 4-3 win over Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg.
De Bruyne has undoubtedly been the best midfielder of 2022.
#4 Sadio Mane
Sadio Mané has had a wonderful year so far. The former Liverpool striker led Senegal to the 2021 AFCON title and was named ‘player of the tournament’ for his exploits. He also guided Senegal to World Cup qualification earlier this year.
Mane was not at his best in the first half of the 2021-22 season. But in 2022, he successfully transitioned from winger to centre-forward and started to be hugely effective for Liverpool again in the final third. His goals kept Liverpool in contention for the Premier League title until the final day of the season.
Mane was also crucial in Liverpool’s run to the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League final. He scored a goal in the Merseysiders’ first leg in the quarter-final against Benfica and also scored one in each game of the semi-final against Villarreal.
Mane netted a brilliant brace against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final, which Liverpool eventually won by beating Chelsea in the final. The 30-year-old joined Bayern Munich from Liverpool for a fee of 32 million euros.
#3 Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski picked up his second consecutive European Golden Boot this year, scoring 35 goals in the 2021-22 Bundesliga season. He is the most prolific goalscorer in Europe’s top five leagues and despite being 33 years old, the Polish striker is in the form of his life.
Lewandowski has been excellent in 2022. He has scored 16 goals and provided two assists in 17 Bundesliga appearances this year. Lewandowski’s contributions were also crucial to Poland’s World Cup qualification earlier this year. He scored a vital goal in the 2-0 win over Sweden in the qualifying play-off.
Lewandowski also scored a hat-trick in Bayern Munich’s Champions League Round of 16 second leg against RB Salzburg. He also scored a goal for the Bavarians in their quarter-final second leg against Villarreal, which they lost 2-1.
Lewandowski passed his medical examination after joining FC Barcelona for a fee of 45 million euros.
#2 Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappé has been simply unstoppable lately. The French striker is a menacing presence on the football pitch with his blistering speed and incredible close control. Mbappe’s finishing has also improved massively, and he was both top scorer (28) and top assist (17) in Ligue 1 in the 2021-22 season.
He netted a hat-trick for Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de France fourth round against Vannes. Mbappe also scored a goal in each of the two legs of PSG’s Champions League Round of 16 against Real Madrid, which he ultimately lost.
In 2022, Mbappe has scored 19 goals and nine assists in 18 Ligue 1 appearances. He signed a new three-year contract with PSG in the summer and is now tied to the club until 2025.
#1 Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema has played some of the best matches of his career in 2022. His mesmerizing performances have propelled Real Madrid to La Liga and Champions League titles this year.
He netted a hat-trick in 17 minutes in Real Madrid’s Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Paris Saint-Germain. Benzema followed that up with a hat-trick in the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Chelsea.
He also scored the winning goal for Real Madrid in the second leg against the Blues. Benzema then netted a brace in the first leg of the semi-final against Manchester City, before providing an assist and scoring Real Madrid’s winning goal in the second leg.
He is currently the big favorite to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or. Benzema has bagged 12 goals and five assists in 14 La Liga appearances this year. These figures are added to the 10 goals and one assist he registered in the game against Spain.