• July 25, 2024

Lionel Messi’s view on Ballon d’Or has changed completely after Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry

Lionel Messi is an odds-on favourite with the bookmakers to win an eighth Ballon d’Or, but the Argentine superstar insists he is not particularly bothered by the individual award as he closes in on his first trophy with Inter Miami.

Messi has enjoyed a sensational 12 months, inspiring his country to World Cup glory in Qatar and winning the French title with Paris Saint-Germain before making the move Stateside to play for David Beckham’s franchise.

With typical style and grace on the pitch, it has been a truly sensational start for the 36-year-old with his new club, scoring nine goals in six games to lead Miami to the final of the Leagues Cup – a trophy contested by Major League Soccer and Liga MX teams during the MLS mid-season break.

After yet another memorable year for the Barcelona icon, he is as short as 1/5 with some bookmakers to win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Manchester City’s goalscoring machine Erling Haaland. But Messi was philosophical about the prospect on Thursday when he faced the media in Miami for the first time since joining, with Argentina’s World Cup triumph only lowering the personal value of individual awards in his eyes.

 

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“I have said it many times, the Ballon d’Or is very important due to the recognition at the individual level, but I never gave it importance, between quotes, the most important thing for me was always the awards at the group level,” he said.

“I was lucky to have achieved everything in my career and after the World Cup, I’m thinking about that award much less, my biggest award was that and I’m disguising my moment. If it arrives, good, and if not, nothing happens. I was lucky to achieve all my goals in my career and now I have new goals with this club.”

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been locked in a huge, yet respectful, rivalry throughout their extraordinary careers, but it is apparent they have grown to have very different views on the Ballon d’Or. While Messi’s comments on Friday suggest he would consider another golden ball for his collection a welcome bonus, for Ronaldo the accolade has been a driving factor throughout his career.

 

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Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times, most recently in 2017, but after six years, a disappointing return to Manchester United and a move to Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, it is hard to envisage the 38-year-old being in the conversation for the award again.

But back in 2019, Ronaldo declared his heart was set on overtaking Messi – who he shared many memorable El-Classico battles with – and winning eight Ballon d’Ors. “The most golden balls in the history of football,” Ronaldo said. “I will love it, and I think I deserve it. Messi is a fantastic guy and a fantastic player, but I think after I have six, or seven, or eight then I’ll be more above him.”

 

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Messi’s goals and leadership, alongside fellow former Barca stars Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, have transformed a lowly Inter Miami team and they are favourites going into Saturday’s Leagues Cup final against Nashville SC at Geodis Park. Soon after, attention will turn back to the MLS campaign as Messi and his teammates try to climb from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

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