Ballon d’Or nominee Bonmati ‘like Zidane’, says Pauleta

Aitana Bonmati's similarities to Zinedine Zidane are part of the qualities that should win her the upcoming Ballon d'Or, according to former Portugal international Pauleta.

Bonmati's incredible form in the 2022-23 season helped Barcelona to a magnificent treble, recording a competition-leading 12 goal involvements as the Blaugrana claimed Champions League glory, before she also played a major role in Australia and New Zealand as her national team Spain won the Women's World Cup for the first time.

Bonmati was given the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player, and the midfielder is the favourite to collect more individual silverware in the near future having been named among the nominees to pick up the Ballon d'Or, the winner of which will be announced at a ceremony in Paris in late October.

Pauleta fully expects Bonmati to be named the 2022-23 season's best player, pointing to Zidane, the winner of the men's Ballon d'Or in 1998, as a star Bonmati shares traits with.

When asked who she thought should claim the trophy, Pauleta told Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit: "I say Aitana [Bonmati] because she had an incredible season with Barcelona and Spain.

"I played against her in the Champions League. I felt something about [Zinedine] Zidane in her game. She's aggressive but with the ball, she's so sweet. She always puts the ball where it needs to be.

"The game is better when she is playing. She has this quality that makes her play beautifully."

Among the other nominees competing with Bonmati is Mary Earps, the Manchester United and England goalkeeper who won the Golden Glove at the World Cup as the tournament's best shot-stopper, saving a penalty from Bonmati's Spain team-mate Jennifer Hermoso in the final.

Prior to her heroics with the Lionesses, Earps had helped United to a strong Women's Super League campaign as well as the club's first-ever FA Cup final.

Fellow goalkeeper Patricia Morais believes Earps should become the first Ballon d'or winner from their position, saying: "I think it will be the England goalkeeper [Earps], for sure. I have no doubt that she will win.

"She's a world-class goalkeeper. She deserves it because I like her style, how she plays football and I identify myself with her."