- Messi's longevity and continued success make him a strong contender for the Ballon d'Or, despite being in the race for 15 years.
- Messi's World Cup victory with Argentina and his Golden Ball win as the tournament's best player solidify his position in the race for the award.
- Messi's impressive season at PSG, along with his recognition for other individual awards, further support his deservingness of the Ballon d'Or.
The Ballon d'Or race is beginning to heat up, and it seems there are two men firmly considered the front runners for the award. Lionel Messi (no surprises there) is once again one of the favourites as he seemingly has been for almost 15 years now. It's a testament to his longevity and just how long his reign as one of the best has been that he remains in contention for the accolade 14 years after winning his first one.
He won't have it easy, though, as he's up against the goalscoring sensation that is Erling Haaland. Since joining Manchester City last summer, the Norwegian has been frightening in front of goal and is finding the back of the net at a rate no one in England has in quite some time. Winning the treble with City and breaking the Premier League's record for goals in a season, the former Borussia Dortmund man has a very strong case for winning his first Ballon d'Or this year, but we're here to tell you why Messi is the man who should receive the honour. In fact, we've got eight reasons why he should receive Ballon d'Or number eight.
Here are eight reasons why Messi should win the Ballon d'Or this year.
1 He won the World Cup
It almost seemed like it was never going to happen, but this year, Messi finally won the World Cup with Argentina, and it was the culmination of a truly legendary career. A lack of significant success in international football was really the only criticism anyone could ever really aim at the 36-year-old throughout his career, and now he's won the biggest tournament in the world with his nation. It's the biggest achievement anyone can gain in football and has solidified his status as the greatest player of all time as well as the worthy Ballon d'Or winner for this year.
2 He won the Golden Ball in the World Cup
What's more impressive than winning the World Cup with Argentina, is doing so and being the best player in the entire tournament at the age of 36. Throughout the competition, Messi was pivotal to his country's success and the Golden Ball he was awarded at the end of it is a testament to that. The award meant that he hadn't only been successful as a team with Argentina, but he'd clearly stood out as an individual and was fully deserving of all praise. With the combination of team and individual success in the World Cup, it's further proof he deserves the Ballon d'Or.
3 He had a big season at PSG
After his first season in France at Paris Saint-Germain fell way short of expectations, many were claiming that Messi's time as one of the best footballers in the world was over. He quickly shut the doubters up, though, and bounced back in a major way throughout this year at the club.
With 16 goals and 16 assists in 32 league appearances, he was in scintillating form, and it served as a reminder to all just how good he still is. Showing his talent as a goalscorer and as a playmaker, his all-round game is superb in the final third of the pitch, and it should be enough to bag him another Ballon d'Or.
4 He won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award
This year also saw Messi crowned the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, the second time he's ever won the award. What's more significant, though, is he's the only footballer to ever actually receive the accolade and now he's done it for the second time. Some of the previous winners include the best of the best from a variety of sports.
Roger Federer has won it on several occasions, Lewis Hamilton has bagged it once, Tiger Woods a couple of times, but Messi is the only footballer to have ever done so. If the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award can recognise he is still the best footballer in the world right now, who are we to argue?
5 He's already been voted the best FIFA Men's Player by his peers
If the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award isn't enough for you, how about the fact that Messi not only won the most recent FIFA Men's Player of the Year award, but he was also voted for by his peers, media and coaches for the achievement? While fans make up a percentage of the vote, the rest is made up by national team coaches, national team captains and the media. Winining with over 50% of the vote, it's clear that the football world seems to think Messi is the best men's footballer this year, so he's more than deserving of winning the Ballon d'Or.
6 He has become the only star to win the World Cup Golden Ball twice
Sure, this might feel a little cheap, pulling from Messi's past achievements as reasons for why he should win the Ballon d'Or this year, but the fact he is now the only footballer ever to have won the World Cup's Golden Ball award on two separate occasions deserves to be recognised.
First winning it in 2014 when he took Argentina to the final, he then went one better, winning the entire tournament last winter and winning the award again for his troubles. His two goals in the World Cup final were instrumental in the side's victory, and it's just absurd to think he's been named the best player in the entire World Cup tournament on two different occasions, over eight years apart.
7 He achieved success with both club and country this year
With a couple of trophies with PSG and the World Cup with Argentina, Messi has had a tremendous year for both club and country over the last 12 months and that deserves to be recognised. Sure, Haaland had a very impressive season at City and there's clearly a case to be made that his campaign at club level was much better than the Inter Miami star's, but you have to factor in their exploits in international football too and when you do, it isn't even close.
While Messi won the World Cup, Haaland failed to even qualify for the tournament and yeah, he does play for Norway who are clearly a worse side than Argentina, but the 36-year-old is still the best player in his nation's team and played a significant role in their success. If the Ballon d'Or was based solely on club performances, then sure Haaland may deserve the win, but it doesn't, so Messi should be the man who wins it.
8 Erling Haaland has disappeared in big games
While there's no denying how incredible Haaland has been at City and his goalscoring rate is simply second to none, he has had a tendency to disappear in the biggest games for the club. Throughout his debut campaign in England, the star played in three finals, the Community Shield, the FA Cup final and the Champions League final and failed to score in any one of the games. Sure, he had no trouble scoring at almost any other time of year, but he didn't perform to his best when it mattered the most.
That's the opposite of Messi who rose to the occasion in the World Cup final and scored two massive goals to seal his side's victory in dramatic fashion. With all that under consideration, it's hard to see any reason why the Inter Miami man shouldn't be awarded the Ballon d'Or this year.