I will give Lionel Messi Ballon d’Or every time: Xavi Hernandez
The brand ambassador of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, former Spain and Barcelona superstar Xavi Hernandez said it was “unfair” to deny Lionel Messi the Ballon d’Or this year.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Lusail Stadium design launch event in Doha on Saturday, the 38-year-old midfielder said his former Barcelona teammate should win the award “every time”.
“In my opinion it’s not fair. He is the best player I have seen ever,” said Xavi. “I will give Messi the Ballon d’Or every year but I don’t give the award.”
Messi, who has won the Ballon five times along with Portugal’s Ronaldo, fell out of the top three in the shortlist for the first time since 2007. The Argentine won the award every year from 2009-2012.
The Ballon d’Or went to Croatia’s talismanic Luka Modric, who broke Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s 10-year grip on the coveted award last month.
“I am happy for Modric but Messi is the best,” said Xavi, who plays for Qatari side Al Sadd.
The Spaniard is contemplating a career in coaching from next year and is targeting a start in Qatar that already has a Spanish national coach in Felix Sanchez.
Modric is unhappy neither Messi nor Ronaldo attended the Ballon d’Or award ceremony in Paris on December 3, report agencies.
“I cannot speak about why someone didn’t turn up at an award ceremony, it’s their choice. It doesn’t make sense, does it? It seems these votes and awards are only significant when they win,” the Real Madrid midfielder told Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti.
“It’s unfair to fellow players and voters who have nominated them in the past 10 years, as well as to football and the fans. However, people will act the way they think they should.”
Modric, who guided Croatia to the World Cup final against France in Russia and also won a third straight Champions League with Real Madrid, took a dig at Messi and Ronaldo.
“If the debate is going to be about how good a particular player is, the only course of action is to award all trophies to Messi and Ronaldo until they retire and scrap the voting.”