Fans, analysts, pundits, journalists & club captains have mooted the idea of Van Dijk, Raheem Sterling, Mbappe and Bernardo Silva as possible recipients of football’s most prestigious individual award, the ballon d’or.
Need one mention that usual suspects, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are in the conversation?
Footytool’s ADEKANYE OPEOLUWA runs a quick check on Lionel Messi’s ballon d’or hopes, X-raying his performances in the Spanish League, Champions League and the 2019 Copa America.
Lionel Messi in the La Liga; 5 time Ballon d’or winner, Lionel Messi was unstoppable in the 2018/2019 La Liga campaign.
Never mind that Real Madrid sold Ronaldo to Juventus, perhaps making the League less competitive, and the pichichi race a straightforward one.
Lionel Messi returned 75 mins per goal in 2710 mins played, scoring 36 Goals and providing 13 Assists.
That gives a total combination of 49 goals + assists from one player, in a 38 match league campaign, astonishing! Ballon d’or worthy.
In the Champions League; Messi ended the Champions League campaign as top scorer, scoring 12 goals. He singlehandedly powered Barcelona to the Champions League Semi Finals. He was on hand to see out Lyon & Manchester United, scoring breathtaking goals. Ballon d’or worthy.
At a point in 2019, the diminutive Argentine looked like the clearest favourite to win the Ballon d’or.
Barcelona were on course to win the Spanish League, his brace helped Barcelona thrash Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of the Semi Final of the Champions League, and were to face Valencia in the Copa Del Rey Final.
With Messi at the heart of everything good for Barcelona, another treble was loading, no?
Right before the eyes of everyone, Lionel Messi’s treble hopes collapsed.
Liverpool overturned a 3-0 deficit, thrashing Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield and out of the Blue, Valencia defeated Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final, leaving Messi and Barcelona with only the Spanish League title as their major trophy for the 2018/2019 campaign. Not ballon d’or worthy
The missed Copa America chance.
The 2019 Copa America on Brazilian soil represented an opportunity for Lionel Messi to steal a March on his rivals for the Ballon d’or race.
It has been well documented that Lionel Messi has never won anything major with Argentina. Critics give less importance to the U-20 World Cup he won in 2005 and the Olympics he won in 2008.
Argentina fell to Brazil at the Semi Final stage with Lionel Messi failing to score from open play, his only goal in the tournament was a penalty.
The best individual player in the world should be able to perform excellently for club and country.
Messi’s performance at the Copa America where he scored 1 goal in 5 matches is not ballon d’or worthy.
Lionel Messi for Argentina at the 2019 Copa América:
Most take-ons completed (20)
Most shots (16)
Most fouls won (15)
Most chances created (9).
In a year where a player like Bernardo Silva can point to his trophy cabinet which has the 2018/2019 Premier League title, the FA Cup and the Capital one cup, and the UEFA Nations League, where a Virgil Van Dijk can point to the Champions League trophy in addition to the ‘its time to reward defenders agenda’ where Ronaldo can say he won something for club and country, the agenda against Messi might just be strong enough.
The European golden shoe, popularity level, breathtaking goals, the 30 yards free-kicks, (ask Liverpool’s Alisson, he has been at the receiving end of it), are the things that would go in favour of Lionel Messi when its time for fans, analysts, pundits, journalists, club captains to decide the best player in the world.
Messi’s woeful performance at the 2019 Copa America & Barcelona’s capitulation in the #UCL leaves Messi’s 2019 Ballon d’or hopes in the balance.