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    Vinicius can challenge Mbappe and De Bruyne for 2023 Ballon d´Or, says Rivaldo

    Vinicius Junior will be one of the leading candidates for the Ballon d’Or in 2023, according to Rivaldo. 

    Brazil international Vinicius was a key part of the Real Madrid side that won LaLiga and the Champions League in 2021-22, scoring the only goal of the game as Los Blancos beat Liverpool in the European final. 

    The 21-year-old scored 22 goals and supplied 16 assists – more than he managed across the previous three campaigns combined – in 52 games in all competitions. Only Kylian Mbappe (60), Karim Benzema (59), Christopher Nkunku (51) and Mohamed Salah (46) were involved in more goals in all competitions among players in the top five European leagues. 

    Benzema is the favourite for the 2022 Ballon d’Or, which will be awarded in October, but World Cup-winning former attacker Rivaldo believes next year could be Vinicius’ time. 

    “After a fantastic season with Real Madrid, in which he scored the goal that won the Champions League, I can only hope the young Brazilian attacker continues to develop in this way,” Rivaldo told Betfair. 

    “He has improved a lot in front of goal and if he continues like this he can claim to be the star of Real Madrid, because Karim Benzema will retire one day. 

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    “It’s hard to name favourites [for the Ballon d’Or] when the season hasn’t started, but I don’t seem him behind Kylian Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne and others. 

    “The titles that each club wins will be very important in the final choice.” 

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