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Messi Is a Controversial Pick for Ballon d’Or

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On Oct. 31, Lionel Messi won his historic eighth France Football Ballon d’Or after leading Argentina to its first World Cup win since 1986. Many people believe that Messi deserved the award, but several other players had incredible seasons, so why did France Football choose Messi? France Football’s decision wasn’t made because of bias for Lionel Messi, it was made because of a bias for the World Cup.

This year, Messi tallied 39 goals and 28 assists across all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Miami, and Argentina. Messi’s main competition came from Manchester City and Norway player Erling Braut Haaland, who led Manchester City to an English treble of winning the Premier League title, the FA cup title, and the UEFA Champions League title. Amidst this success, Haaland scored 52 goals and had nine assists in 52 games. 

Another potential competitor for the Ballon d’Or was Kylian Mbappé, who led Paris Saint-Germain to the league title and led France to the World Cup final while managing to pull off 61 goal contributions. Mbappé and Messi both played portions of the season for the best team in Ligue 1, which is considered to be the least competitive league in the Big 5 European leagues. Messi also finished off the year in the MLS, which is significantly easier than playing in Europe.

Off of pure numbers, Haaland surely had the best year out of the three, but the journalists who vote for the Ballon d’Or take in multiple factors. Since the FIFA World Cup only happens every four years, the voters give extra preference to players who do well on the global stage. Out of the last nine World Cup years, six of the Ballon d’Ors have gone to players who reached the final. For Haaland to beat a player who won the World Cup and the World Cup Golden Ball would have been hard. Add on the fact that Haaland’s Norway did not even make the World Cup, and a Ballon d’Or for Haaland becomes even more improbable. The last player to win a Ballon d’Or while not making the World Cup was Kevin Keegan all the way back in 1978.

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Theo Arnold, Staff Writer

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