Lionel Messi is set to win a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or ahead of Manchester City’s treble-winning striker Erling Haaland, according to insider Fabrizio Romano.
Messi steered Argentina to its third World Cup in Qatar last December, recording seven goals and a tournament-high three assists. Two of those goals came in the final against France, which Argentina won in a penalty shootout.
The Ballon d’Or ceremony is scheduled for Monday night in Paris.
Haaland scored 52 goals while breaking the Premier League’s single-season record and won a continental treble in his first season with Manchester City. However, the Norwegian didn’t participate in the World Cup, as his country failed to qualify.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Napoli pair Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia had strong seasons as well. Mbappe became just the second player after Geoff Hurst to record a hat-trick in a World Cup final and led all scorers in Ligue 1 last season with 29 goals.
But it appears Messi has pipped all of his peers to once again claim the most prestigious individual award in world football. He extends the record he already owned ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo’s five and Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff, and Marco van Basten, who have three apiece.
Messi built his candidacy almost entirely on his performance at the World Cup. His final season with PSG was underwhelming despite his 16 goals and 16 assists, with the Argentine admitting he was unhappy in the French capital.
His time with Inter Miami has been much more prosperous. He scored 11 goals in his first 14 matches with the Major League Soccer outfit and helped it win the Leagues Cup. Despite his best efforts, though, Inter Miami failed to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs.
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