The Ballon d’Or retains its prestige as the biggest accolade for players in the world of football.
Over the past decade or so, this honour has largely been dominated by two iconic names: the Argentine maestro Lionel Messi and his famed GOAT rival, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The lone exception since 2008, when someone other than Messi or Ronaldo triumphed, was Luka Modric and Karim Benzema in 2018 and 2022, respectively.
This prestigious award has not been without its share of controversies either. The most recent instance was the cancellation of the 2020 edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sparking widespread debates about whether Robert Lewandowski deserved the recognition, as the BBC reported.
This year, Messi appears set to claim the award for an unprecedented eighth time. However, it is worth noting that there are dissenting voices among pundits and fans who contend the Argentinian does not merit the accolade.
Sports Brief explores four reasons why some argue Messi should not be awarded the Ballon d’Or this year.
Messi’s World Cup triumph ‘not enough’
Securing the World Cup has perpetually been Messi’s ultimate aspiration. It stands as the most coveted trophy that has remained beyond his grasp, despite his collection of every major accolade throughout his career.
This particular trophy possesses the power to conclusively resolve the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) debate and put to rest the decade-old rivalry between himself and Ronaldo.
But does that alone justify winning the Ballon d’Or? Many players have delivered outstanding performances in previous editions of the World Cup yet failed to secure the prestigious award.
Manuel Neuer was overlooked in 2014, despite Germany’s World Cup victory and Bayern Munich’s league triumph. Similarly, Andres Iniesta was passed over for Messi in 2010 despite playing for the same Barcelona team that secured numerous trophies, not to mention Spain’s World Cup win that year.
The inconsistency in these decisions is striking and it is increasingly evident that when it comes to Messi, people often go to great lengths to shower praise on his talent.
Would this conversation even be happening if that last-minute Kolo Muani opportunity had found the back of the net – a scenario entirely unrelated to Messi?
A case for Kylian Mbappe
After orchestrating World Cup glory for Argentina, Messi is currently in a strong position to secure an eighth Ballon d’Or, setting a new record. However, when evaluating the year in review, was the 36-year-old a superior player to Mbappe in both club and international settings?Super Ballon d’Or: Inside look at what it entails as Messi, Haaland go head to headFOOTBALL
While Messi was awarded the Golden Ball at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, recognising him as the tournament’s best player, it would be just as reasonable to argue Mbappe deserved the accolade.
The French forward tallied eight goals and contributed two assists in seven appearances in Qatar.
In the World Cup final against Argentina, Mbappe notched a remarkable hat-trick. With France trailing 2-0 until the 80th minute, he singlehandedly resurrected their hopes when many had already counted them out.
It stands as one of the most remarkable individual performances in a World Cup final throughout history. Among Mbappe’s noteworthy achievements in the 2022-23 season, he claimed the Golden Boot at the World Cup.
Another Messi Champions League collapse
After a disappointing result at Parc des Princes in the first leg, Paris Saint-Germain suffered a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages last season.
While Messi cannot be held accountable for his team’s defensive breakdown, he bears responsibility for PSG’s inability to find the net in both legs.
Adding to the historic weight of these events is the fact that the Parisians experienced a similar misfortune just one year earlier.
In the 2022 UCL knockout phase, PSG secured a 1-0 lead against Real Madrid going into the second leg, only to be eliminated following a 3-1 shutout at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The emergence of Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland undeniably stood out as the best striker in football last year and the gap between him and others was notably wide.
He accomplished the remarkable feat of winning the treble with Manchester City, conquering the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup. Such an achievement demands unwavering determination, dedication, and discipline.
Pep Guardiola’s side consistently delivered impressive performances and Haaland led the charge with an impressive 52 goals in all competitions.
With this remarkable feat, Messi’s Ballon d’Or victory gives rise to a multitude of questions.