As the glittering event of the 2023 Ballon d'Or looms closer in Paris, there's a strong buzz around Lionel Messi bagging his 8th award. But is this an accurate prediction?
In the recently concluded World Cup, Messi's prowess on the field was on full display as he netted 7 goals for Argentina, a feat that has significantly upped his chances. Unfortunately, his stint with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) hasn't mirrored his World Cup performance.
It's not a one-horse race for the Ballon d'Or. Notably, Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland have both made their marks this season, putting up strong performances that have put them squarely in competition with Messi. In fact, there's a growing chorus suggesting that it's either Mbappé or Haaland who truly deserve the coveted prize.
A recent French survey underscores this point. It revealed that while 61% of respondents acknowledge the importance of the Ballon d'Or, they don't necessarily believe it's always awarded to the top player. Only 38% felt the recipient is frequently the world's best player. In France, a distinct preference emerged for handing the award to Mbappé. Breaking it down, 46% of the votes went to Mbappé, followed by Haaland at 19% and Messi trailing at 12%.
Where Messi Stands
Messi's standing in the football world is indisputable. Ranking 4th on the list of the best players in history, he stands among the likes of Pelé, Zinedine Zidane, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet, his performance on French ground has not lived up to expectations.
Public opinion also sheds light on preferred criteria for Ballon d'Or voting. Of those surveyed, 35% voiced that priority should be given to Champions League performance. And on this front, Messi nor Mbappé have not been stellar in this competition.
The stage is set for the Ballon d'Or announcement, will Messi secure his 8th or will we see a new football star rise?