Messi Wins Number Eight - Is the Ballon d'Or losing its credibility?


The annual Ballon d'Or awards ceremony was held by France Football this week bringing Europe's greatest footballers together to celebrate the previous season's achievements. Despite additional awards, such as the Kopa Trophy awarded to the best player aged under 21 (Jude Bellingham), the most prestigious prize went to Lionel Messi.

Messi won his record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or, ahead of Erling Haaland who had a prolific year in front of goal for Manchester City. However, there are some questions as to whether the award was awarded purely through sentiment after seeing Messi finally lift the World Cup. To understand the comparisons we can compare the two players 22/23 season's.

Messi's 22/23:

  • World Cup (Argentina)
  • Ligue 1 (PSG)
  • French Super Cup (PSG)
  • 7 World Cup goals 
  • 20 goals and 21 assists in 41 apps for PSG

Haaland's 22/23:

  • Champions League (Man City)
  • Premier League (Man City)
  • FA Cup (Man City)
  • 52 goals and 9 assists in 53 apps for Man City
  • Premier League Player of the Season
  • UFEA Men's Player of the Year
  • Record-breaking 36 league goals
  • 12 goals in 11 Champions League apps

Purely looking at the stats over the season its hard to argue with the fact Erling Haaland deserved the Balon d'Or. With questions about his ability to adapt to the Premier League and his new team, Haaland scored goals for fun from the start of the season to the end. He was undoubtedly the world's best goal scorer, breaking all kinds of records on his way to winning Man City's first Champions League and treble. 

However, the World Cup was the primary reason for Messi coming out on top. Football fans around the world were delighted to finally see Messi lift the sport's most sort after trophy with his country after many disappointments previously. People online may be quick to point out 4 of Messi's World Cup goals were penalties (some of which awarded controversially). Watching Argentina it was clear everything went through Messi, captaining his side with leadership and his performances. And without saying Argentina had a weak team, they put all their faith in Messi, and rightly so. His PSG performances were much better than the season prior, helping his team win the league (only by one point) for the 9th time in 11years.

Does the World Cup have too much influence in the rankings?

The World Cup is the biggest sporting competition in the world and only comes around every four years so its importance cannot go understated. However, should a handful of games decide the award for the best players throughout the year? Emiliano Matrinez won the Yashin award (best goalkeeper), was he the best goalkeeper in 22/23? Luka Modric won the Ballon d'Or in 2018 for a 2nd place World Cup finish, was his season better than Ronaldo's incredible number of goals and unbelievable Champion's League run?

In short, the World Cup should, of course, be a large factor in the decision making, however it shouldn't brush aside the other fifty-something games (especially when they lead to a treble).

Sean Priest


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