Lionel Messi is set to win the 2023 Ballon d’Or, making it his eighth title overall. According to SPORT, the Argentina captain will add to his hoard of the most prestigious individual awards in world football at the ceremony on Monday 30th October.
The Ballon d’Or, or Golden Ball in English, has been handed out annually by the publication France Football for the best male player in world football from 1956. Since 2018 it has also run the Ballon d’Or Féminin for the female game, with Barcelona’s Aitana Bonmati the would-be winner this year to add to her World Cup and Champions League medals.Embed from Getty Images
Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Or History
Widely considered as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi’s first Ballon d’Or came in 2009 as he was recognised for his key role in the treble-winning Barcelona side of 2008/09. His first placement in the top three came two years prior, coming third behind Cristiano Ronaldo and winner Kaka.
Lionel Messi added three more awards in 2010, 2011 and 2012, with that streak being broken by Ronaldo in 2013. ‘La Pulga’ then collected the rest of his accolades in 2015, 2019 and 2021. Only Cristiano Ronaldo’s five Ballon d’Or can compete with Messi’s total, with the next closest to the pair coming with a three-way tie between Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten, who all have three awards each.Embed from Getty Images
Why Messi Wins This Year
Lionel Messi’s leadership in his country’s triumph at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is perhaps the primary reason behind his accolade this year. Even at age 35, his quality above every other player was evident. Though his club form in recent years has never emulated his glory years at Barcelona, his arrival in the United States has already heralded a historic Leagues Cup trophy for his current team Inter Miami.
His main competitor this year was likely to be Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, who netted 52 times in 53 games in his club’s treble-winning campaign, smashing the Premier League goal record on the way with 36 goals.
However, Lionel Messi’s capturing of that elusive World Cup trophy may have proved to be too much to ignore as he finally replicated the great Diego Maradona by captaining his country to the pinnacle of international football.
The debate over Messi’s title this year may be similar to his last victory in 2021, where he beat Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who was highly tipped to win his inaugural golden ball after a 41-goal strong Bundesliga season.
After that year the Ballon d’Or voting regulations changed. While it was previously voted for by journalistic representatives from all 180 FIFA member countries, it was altered to limit voting to journalists from the top 100 FIFA-ranked nations, with the Ballon d’Or Féminin only using the top 50 ranked nations in women’s football.Embed from Getty Images
The 2022 Ballon d’Or recipient Karim Benzema is also nominated for this award, as is Lewandowski. Cristiano Ronaldo, however, was not included on the shortlist for the first time since 2003.