Lionel Messi received his 8th Ballon d’Or on the 30th of October, 2023.
With this achievement, he becomes the player with the most awards, surpassing Pelé, who has seven.
Lionel Messi Surpasses Pelé in Ballon d’Or Awards
The Ballon d’Or (Ballon D’or) award is now in its 67th edition. It is organized by France Football magazine and aims to gather football personalities (players, coaches, and journalists) to decide who the best player in the world is each year.
For most of its existence, France Football only considered players who played in European clubs eligible for the award.
To rectify this injustice, in 2015, the renowned magazine revisited Pelé’s career and acknowledged that the King deserved seven Ballon d’Or awards.
South American football remained neglected in the award from 1956 to 1995 because only European players were eligible.
From 1995 to 2006, non-European players could compete for the award if they played in Europe. Only after 2007 did all players worldwide become eligible for this honour.
However, even after 1995, the landscape didn’t change much. The only player to make the top 10 was Neymar in 2011 when he won the Libertadores with Santos.
Nevertheless, Lionel Messi, through his merits, achieved a historic feat by surpassing the greatest player of all time in Ballon d’Or awards.
The competition came down to him and Erling Haaland. One had won everything at the club level, the other had crowned his brilliant career with the ultimate prize to be won, the World Cup.
A lot of controversy surrounded Lionel Messi’s victory over Erling Haaland. The argument was that La Pulga did not perform well for PSG, and the World Cup had too much weight in the decision.
Image: FRANCK FIFE / AFP
However, let’s reflect.
It’s common knowledge that the World Cup is and will always be the most important tournament in football. That’s why it’s a mega event that happens every four years.
We also know that the World Cup has always carried significant weight in deciding the Ballon d’Or winner.
We have a few examples.
In 2002, Ronaldo Fenômeno played little for Inter Milan and was trying to leave the club. It was at the World Cup where he became the top scorer and champion, scoring two goals in the final.
Does anyone contest today that Ronaldo Fenômeno was the best player in 2002?
In 2006, Fabio Cannavaro won the award. Italy won the World Cup against France. The expectation was that Zidane would win the award, but it became impossible after his headbutt, expulsion, and the loss of the title.
The fact is, there is no conspiracy to favor Lionel Messi. He deserves his eighth Ballon d’Or because he won the most important competition of the year, leading his team and crowning a brilliant career.
Furthermore, Messi’s performance for PSG should not be disregarded. We know that the Champions League title, a goal pursued since the club’s foundation, remained elusive. However, no other player has been able to win it either. Neymar, who came closest by taking the team to the final, was practically driven out of the club by the fans.
The other titles contested by PSG were won. They once again won Ligue 1, as well as the French Super Cup, adding to Messi’s trophy collection.
His individual performance can also be considered excellent. He played 41 matches for the French club, scoring 21 goals and providing 20 assists. That means an average of a goal involvement per game.
In the World Cup, it’s unnecessary to elaborate. He scored 7 goals and provided 3 assists in 7 matches. In addition, he lifted the trophy as captain.
So, there are plenty of reasons to award the title to Messi, but there are few justifications for those who want to diminish his accomplishments.
Image: Sky Sports
Other Awards of the Night
The 67th Ballon d’Or ceremony also featured other interesting awards.
Vinicius Jr. received the Socrates Award due to his outstanding social work with children from underprivileged communities in Rio de Janeiro. His fight against racism was also acknowledged.
The young Englishman is expected to reach even greater heights, and if he maintains this pace, he should be among the top three players in the world in the following year.
Erling Haaland received the Gerd Muller Award as the top scorer of the 2022/23 season, having scored 56 goals, including international matches for the Norwegian national team and for Manchester City.
Image: Manchester Evening News
The Lev Yashin Award went to Dibu Martinez, primarily for his exceptional performances in the World Cup, especially in the final.
Aitana Bonmattí won the award for the best female player in the world, thanks to her spectacular season with Barcelona.
What about you? Do you agree with the awards given?
Comment! Written by Vitor F L Miller.