Messi to make history with eighth Ballon d’Or after World Cup success with Argentina

Written by Keji Evelyn

Lionel Messi is set to make history by winning his eighth Ballon d’Or later this month, according to a leaked report. The Argentine legend will be crowned the best male player of 2023 after leading his country to World Cup glory and dazzling in MLS with Inter Miami.

Messi, 36, will receive the prestigious award at a ceremony in Paris on Monday, October 30, beating Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and former PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe, who were his closest rivals. The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star will extend his record as the most decorated player in the history of the Ballon d’Or, moving three ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi achieved the crowning glory of his unparalleled career when he captained Argentina to their first World Cup title since 1986 in Qatar last year. He scored six goals and provided four assists in the tournament, including a stunning free-kick in the semi-final against Brazil. He also won the Golden Ball as the best player of the World Cup.

After his contract with PSG expired, Messi joined Inter Miami in July and immediately set MLS alight with a string of spellbinding performances. He scored 18 goals and assisted 12 in 22 games, helping his new club reach the playoffs. He also became the first player to win the MLS MVP award in his debut season.

Messi may be the most decorated footballer in history but maintains that he’s never given the Ballon d’Or much “importance”. The Argentine forward explained shortly after joining Inter Miami, co-owned by David Beckham: “I have said it many times, the Ballon d’Or is very important due to the recognition at the individual level, but I never gave it importance.

“The most important thing for me was always the awards at the group level. I was lucky to have achieved everything in my career and after the World Cup, I’m thinking about that award much less, my biggest award was that and I’m disguising my moment. If it arrives, good, and if not, nothing happens. I was lucky to achieve all my goals in my career and now I have new goals with this club.”

As for the women’s prize, Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati will be presented as the winner at the Chatelet Theater, having won the Women’s World Cup with Spain after beating England in August’s dramatic final. Bonmati scored four goals and provided three assists in the tournament, including a brace in the final. She also won the Golden Ball as the best player of the Women’s World Cup.

Bonmati, 25, also helped Barcelona win their second consecutive UEFA Women’s Champions League title last season, scoring six goals and assisting seven in nine games. She also won the domestic double with Barcelona, scoring 10 goals and assisting 11 in 26 games.

The leaked winners of both the male and female awards for 2023 were reported by Catalan newspaper Sport , which claimed that Messi and Bonmati had already been informed of their victories ahead of the official announcement.

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