Why Messi Will Beat Haaland to 2023 Ballon d’Or Despite Man City Star Winning Treble

Why Messi Will Beat Haaland to 2023 Ballon d’Or Despite Man City Star Winning Treble

Martin Moses
September 17, 2023 at 6:15 AM
  • Lionel Messi is on track to win a record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or in October
  • This is despite Erling Haaland's record-breaking season with Manchester City
  • Messi's victory at the 2022 World Cup is among the factors that play in his favour

The 2023 Ballon d'Or debate got into full swing following the conclusion of the European season, after the UEFA Champions League final on June 10.

Manchester City's win over Inter Milan saw the end of an action-packed season, which essentially means players eyeing the Ballon d'Or award could not do anything else to affect their chances.

Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, World Cup, Manchester City, Ballon d'Or, Champions League
Erling Haaland celebrates after winning the Champions League with Manchester City on June 10. Photo by Matteo Ciambelli.
Source: Getty Images

Lionel Messi was believed to making a beeline for a record-extending eighth title after he led Argentina to a World Cup victory in December last year.

However, he has since received solid competition from Erling Haaland, who starred in a flawless Manchester City side which completed the European treble.

The Norwegian is expected to give the new Inter Miami forward a run for his money in October but as Sports Brief notes, Messi might still have an advantage over the 23-year-old.

1. Messi won the World Cup

The World Cup trophy is undoubtedly the most important and biggest trophy in world football. Messi finally won it on his fifth attempt after previous years of disappointment, while Haaland's Norway did not even qualify for the Qatar showpiece.

2. Messi's World Cup performance

Not only did the 35-year-old win the World Cup, but he actively contributed to La Albiceleste's win. The skipper stepped up when his country needed him, scoring crucial goals throughout the campaign, and he was voted the best player of the tournament for his efforts.

3. Messi's brilliant individual season

PSG might have been eliminated from the Champions League at a very early stage, but Messi still had a good season in front of goal. He put his miserable debut season behind him to score 38 goals and set up 25 assists in all competitions.

His goal contributions saw the French giants win another Ligue 1 title. His numbers are, of course, almost dwarfed by Haaland's astronomical figures this season but there is no denying that at his age, Messi had a fantastic season of his own.

4. Haaland's no-show in big games

The one factor that could have swung the pendulum to Haaland's side was if the striker had starred in the latter stages of Manchester City's Champions League campaign. However, the former Borussia Dortmund striker was, for lack of a better term, more of a passenger from the quarter-finals and in the FA Cup final.

The Norwegian was also beaten to the Champions League Player of the Season award by his teammate, Rodri.

5. Manchester City play as a unit

Pep Guardiola has always managed to make his teams play as a unit, irrespective of the world-class players among them. Haaland's 52 goals might have been a product of his positioning and his predatory nature in front of goal, but his teammates played a significant role in his success as well - especially Kevin De Bruyne.

Messi, on the other hand, was literally Argentina's go-to man. He singlehandedly dragged them past Mexico after their shocking opening-day defeat to Saudi Arabia before scoring in every knockout game.

Haaland's performances this season should surely warrant a Ballon d'Or award, but the staging of the World Cup in the middle of the season (and Messi's performance) will complicate his chances.

After winning the treble and scoring 52 goals, what else can a man do?

Biggest Ballon d'Or 'robberies' in history

Sports Brief also reported that the decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in the 'weird' month of December brought about unprecedented debate ahead of the 2023 Ballon d'Or race.

The tournament is often a strong indicator of who will win, with Messi believed to be leading the race for the coveted gong, yet Haaland has since immersed himself in that debate.

There is no doubt that the 2023 race to the top individual prize in football will be a heated one, but what are some of the most controversial Ballon d'Or calls in the award's history?

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Editor- EPL I Serie A
Erling HaalandLionel MessiUEFA Champions LeagueWorld Cup