Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF, who led Argentina to the World Cup last year, defeated Erling Haaland of Manchester City to win the Ballon d’Or for a record seventh time.
Although the victory is primarily due to Messi’s achievements with his country in Qatar, the 36-year-old becomes the first player based in the Major League Soccer to win the prized honour. Former Manchester United star and Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham presented Messi with the trophy in Paris after he signed a contract.
Haaland came in second in the poll and took home the Gerd Muller Trophy, which is awarded to the top striker of the year. Last season, Haaland scored 52 goals as City won the Treble in 2022–2023.
Aitana Bonmatí, a midfielder for Barcelona and Spain, won the Ballon d’Or Féminin before Messi did, capping an incredible year for both her club and her country. Before guiding Spain to World Cup victory in the summer, she assisted Barça in winning Liga F and the Champions League the previous season.
Other honours presented on Monday were Jude Bellingham, a midfielder for Real Madrid and England, winning the Kopa Trophy as the greatest player under the age of twenty-one, and Emiliano Martinez, Messi’s colleague from Argentina, winning the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper.
Messi made it a point to wish Diego Maradona, his acceptance from Argentina, a happy birthday during his victory speech. On Monday, the 1986 World Cup winner, who passed away on November 22, 2020, would have been 63.
No player had won the Ballon d’Or more than Messi, who did it in 2009 and then again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021, even before Monday’s presentation in Paris.
Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Michel Platini, and Cristiano Ronaldo have each won it three times, with Ronaldo having won it five times.
Prior to joining Inter Miami earlier this year, Messi scored 21 goals in 41 games as Paris Saint-Germain won the Ligue 1 championship the previous season.
He has 11 goals in 14 games for Miami since coming to the United States, and he helped the team win its first-ever trophy, the Leagues Cup.
He did, however, miss a number of games due to injury towards the close of the regular MLS season, when Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s team failed in their last-ditch attempt to secure a playoff spot.
Messi’s World Cup exploits at the end of 2022, however, are what secured him his eighth Ballon d’Or as Argentina won the world championship for the third time in 36 years.
Argentina’s success in Qatar was greatly aided by Messi, who led the team with seven goals and three assists while winning Player of the Tournament.
As Lionel Scaloni’s team prevailed in one of the most famous showpieces in the competition’s history, he scored twice in the championship game and once more in the penalty shootout against France.
It was widely believed to be his final opportunity to win football’s greatest prize, having failed to qualify Argentina for four previous World Cups, including the 2014 final loss to Germany.
He also becomes the second-oldest player to win the Ballon d’Or ever at the age of 36 years and four months, unseating Karim Benzema, the winner from the previous year. Only Stanley Matthews, the first champion in 1956, who was 41 years old, was older.
Messi won his first six Ballon d’Or while he was a player for Barcelona, where he holds the records for most goals scored and games. He won it a seventh time shortly after joining PSG in 2021, following his success with Argentina in the Copa America.
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