The 2023 Ballon d'Or winner is...
You may have tuned into last year's World Cup in Qatar. It was a sensational tournament filled with conquest, heartbreak and bliss. The finals were perhaps the greatest in the competition's history: France vs Argentina, Europe vs South America, Mbappe vs Messi, 3-3 after extra-time. After a gruelling fight, Messi and his Argentinian army were crowned champions of the footballing world.
Fast forward to today. A new season of club football has started and Messi has moved on from French club PSG to American club Inter Miami. But there's one award from last year that hasn't been decided... till now.
The Ballon d'Or.
If you've read my previous article about Karim Benzema, you'll know the value of this award. Given to the best, sexiest, most well-achieved man, the world holds its breath while the winner is announced.
For the 2022-2023 season, 2 men were heavy favourites for the Ballon d'Or. Technically there were 3 finalists but Kylian "TMNT" Mbappe wasn't in the conversation despite winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup.
Erling Haaland vs Lionel Messi.
For those who don't know Erling Haaland, let me introduce him real quick. 194cm 90kg Norwegian Viking with FREAKISH speed and athleticism, Haaland is Manchester City's starting striker. In 2022-2023, his club won the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, a feat known as the treble. He scored 36 goals during the Premier League season, which was a new record. He won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year. He won pretty much every award you can think of both individually and with the club. Unfortunately, Qatar 2022 happened this year. Norway has traditionally never been a contender in international football due to the sheer insanity of European competition. So it's not Haaland's fault that his country was not in the World Cup.
Messi, on the other hand, is from Argentina, a royal footballing nation with an extensive history of winning. He didn't win much from a club perspective, but winning the 2022 World Cup was an extreme achievement, especially whilst winning Player of the Match in each round and also the Golden Ball.
The winner of the 2023 Ballon d'Or was... MESSI, MESSI, MESSI, MESSI, MESSI!!!
You might think Haaland was robbed after winning everything with Manchester City. It seems that despite the numbers and titles written on paper, you cannot beat narrative. Messi's struggles of winning a major trophy with Argentina in his illustrious career is well-known. He had heartbreaking defeats in major finals of both the World Cup in 2014 and previous Copa Americas. It was the 1 thing missing from his otherwise perfect footballing resume. But in 2022, he did it. He completed football. He cemented himself as the undisputed GOAT. And in such nail-biting fashion against France... many football fans climaxed that night.
Sorry Haaland. Any other year you may have won it.
But 2022 belongs to Messi.