Ballon d'Or 2023: Can 'goal machine' Haaland stop WC-winner Lionel Messi from winning a record-extending 8th title?

Sep 06, 2023 12:29 PM IST

Lionel Messi led Argentina to a much-awaited FIFA World Cup victory in December last year.

Headlined by last year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the race for the 2023 Ballon d'Or is expected to be absolutely exhilarating. Thanks to Lionel Messi’s World Cup genius and Erling Haaland’s incredible goal-scoring prowess in Manchester City jersey, the Ballon d’Or contention is truly turning out to be intense. Overall, 30 players will be nominated for the Ballon d’Or trophy. The list of nominees is scheduled to be revealed on September 6. The winner will be announced on September 30.

Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi are expected to be among the leading names in race for the Ballon d'Or(AP)
Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi are expected to be among the leading names in race for the Ballon d'Or(AP)

We take a look at the potential nominees and the possible winner of this year’s Ballon d’Or.

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Also read: Watch: Lionel Messi's beautiful gesture for Giorgio Chiellini's daughters wins internet

Battle between Messi and Haaland

Winning FIFA World Cup trophy plays a big role in determining the Ballon d’Or winner. Lionel Messi almost single-handedly guided Argentina to World Cup title in Qatar last year. The Argentine superstar not only lifted the trophy but he was also awarded the Golden Ball for his prolific performance. Apart from his excellent outing in the international circuit, Messi also exhibited his brilliance in domestic football last season. Representing his former side Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), the 36-year-old recorded 38 goals and 25 assists across all competitions last season. Messi’s magnificence saw PSG win the Ligue 1 title in the 2022-23 campaign.

Erling Haaland, on the other hand, was in brilliant form in his debut campaign for Manchester City. The Norwegian netted 52 goals in 53 games to guide the Premier League giants to a historic treble last season. Haaland emerged as the top scorer in both the Champions League (12) and Premier League (36). Needless to say, these mind-boggling numbers will put Haaland in a comfortable position in his hunt for Ballon d’Or.

Who will have the last laugh?

While Messi’s performance was a product of his individual brilliance, Haaland’s numbers are the outcome of an astonishing team effort, guided by Pep Guardiola. There is absolutely no doubt about Haaland’s sensational goal-scoring abilities but while analysing those one cannot overlook Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri’s significant role in the midfield. Whereas, Messi almost solely led Argentina from the front, guiding La Albiceleste to a historic World Cup triumph in December last year. Haaland will certainly give a tough fight to Messi but the Argentine is expected to emerge victorious in the quest for the 2023 Ballon d’Or trophy.

Predicting other nominees

Apart from Haaland and Messi, big names like Kylian Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Vinicius Jr. are expected to be nominated for the 2023 Ballon d’Or award. Mbappe may not have won the World Cup and Champions League but in terms of individual brilliance, there was hardly anyone better than the Frenchman last season. Scoring more than 50 goals for both club and country, Mbappe succeeded in claiming the Ligue 1 title and the Golden Boot at the FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile, Vinicius registered 25 goals and 26 assists to help Real Madrid win the Copa del Rey, Club World Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. Missing out on the Champions League title, however, may damage his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or.

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