Ask ZiVA 728x90 Ads


Did Lionel Messi Deserve A 7th Ballon d’Or?

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

November 30, (THEWILL) – The award of a seventh Ballon d’Or to Lionel Messi sparked heated controversy over the award’s criteria and the entire procedure that led to the announcement of a winner, especially given the year, or two, that a player like Robert Lewandowski has had.

The case for Lewandowski winning the Ballon d’Or ahead of Messi in 2021 was compelling. Indeed, the Bayern Munich and Poland striker had a stellar year, shattering Gerd Muller’s long-standing record for most goals in a single Bundesliga season and setting the bar for most goals at the top of the European game for both club and country.

In that regard, the Polish striker was unrivalled, which was only fairly reflected when he got the newly created “Striker of the Year” honour.

Even as Messi accepted the 2021 Ballon d’Or on stage, the Argentine praised Lewandowski’s achievements over the previous two years. The Paris Saint-Germain forward said, “You deserve your Ballon d’Or. Last year, everyone was in agreement to say that you were the big winner.”

Messi gracefully added what is a factual consideration after the events of the previous year: “Hopefully, France Football could deliver it to you and you can have it in your home. You were the rightful winner [last year]. It couldn’t happen because of the pandemic, but I think you should also have it in your home.”

It is also understandable why those who feel aggrieved on behalf of Lewandowski think some politics was at play and pointed at that as a reflection of why they no longer rate the Ballon d’Or, but the system is the only one that is at hand for determining a winner and the winner cannot be maligned for emerging through the system.

However, that did not prevent the many who disagreed with the emergence of Messi, who finished 33 votes ahead of Lewandowski, from airing their vehement disagreements with the choice of the majority of voters.

Without specifically pointing to the indices behind his claim, German midfielder, Tony Kroos was one of those adamant that there were others better than Messi, who ought to have won the gong instead. Pointing directly to his French teammate Karim Benzema as a good example, Kroos said:

“For me, Karim would have been the number one if you were really looking for the best individual player of the last year, because I can see from close quarters what an outstanding footballer he is.

“When I see how many decisive goals Cristiano has scored lately – Manchester United are still in the Champions League thanks to him alone – then, in my eyes, Cristiano would have also come before Messi.”

“It’s absolutely not deserved. There IS no doubt that Messi, with Cristiano, has been the player of the last decade, but this year there should have been others ahead of him.”

For ex-Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the choice of Messi was tough to accept. He posted on Twitter: “It is increasingly difficult for me to believe in football awards. For me, Messi, he is one of the five best players in all of history but you have to know how to list the most outstanding players in a season. It’s not that hard.”

That sense of not understanding the state of play that has brought Messi an unprecedented seven of these honours was reflected in the reaction of another German legend, Lothar Matthaus. Speaking after Messi was named, he said: “Honestly, I don’t understand anything anymore.

“With all due respect to Messi and the other great players named, none deserved it as much as Lewandowski. France Football didn’t award the prize last year, and if only because of all the titles that Robert has won with Bayern 2020, he is unrivalled not only in the last two years.

“But even if you only take 2021 into account, he was better than the rest. He broke Gerd Muller’s record of the century, is again top of the top scorers list in every competition and has surpassed everyone nationally and internationally this year as well.”

On the other hand were football pundits that believed the honour for Messi was not only deserving, but earned.

Former England icon and football analyst Gary Lineker was full of complimentary congratulations saying: “It’s a magnificent seven. Congratulations to Lionel Messi on winning yet another Ballon d’Or. A truly extraordinary footballer and an absolute credit to the sport both on and off the pitch.”

The Bleacher Report Twitter account followed that with a post that was intended to provide a rationale for why they agreed with the choice of voters in giving the 2021 prize to Messi again: “Carried a struggling Barca on his back. Took Argentina to their first major title in 28 years. Messi deserved this Ballon d’Or.”

And, in the corner of the Argentine superstar is the most ardent live commentator, whose football commentaries on the “Magic of Messi” have become a staple for Messi fans across the globe, the fantastically jovial Ray Hudson.

He tweeted: “The Mozart of our game, for eternity..the rest? Banjo players. All the cynics, critics & haters, keep throwing ya bricks at him! He takes them & builds another monument to his genius w/them! Messi’s world. Where the insane & impossible, becomes the expected!”

These two sides have taken a tribalistic turn online with brickbats and venom exchanged including everything from facts and figures to biases and sentiments an infinitum in arguing for and against Messi’s win. Yet, the seven Ballon d’Ors will enter the annals of football as yet further evidence of Messi’s magic and Mozart Esque brilliance.

But, where do you stand in the debate? Who, in your opinion, deserved to have taken this award? Do you think Messi deserved this (or even any of the other six he had won prior)? We would like to hear from you.