Messi claimed the prestigious award, which is now given for single-season achievements rather than calendar-year achievements, with his performance at the World Cup in Qatar. There, almost a year ago, he led Argentina as captain to their third title, their first since 1986.
Norwegian Haaland, Messi’s only serious competitor, won the Champions League, Championship and Cup titles with Manchester City and scored 58 goals in the same number of matches. Kylian Mbappe and Kevin De Bruyne were the other players to make the top four. The Swiss player was not among the 30 candidates.
A category of its own
Messi previously received the award from the specialized magazine France Football, which has been presented in Paris since 1956, in the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021. The South American, who has been playing for Inter Miami in the USA since this summer, is the record winner ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (5 titles). Since 2008, the title has only gone to Messi or Ronaldo twice. It was won by Luka Modric in 2018 and Karim Benzema last year.
Ponmati follows Putellas
The women’s Ballon d’Or, awarded for the fifth time, went for the first time to Spain’s Aitana Bonmatti, who was named the tournament’s best player on her way to a World Cup title this summer and also won the Champions League with FC Barcelona. The 25-year-old succeeds compatriot and teammate Alexia Putellas, who has won the Ballon d’Or the previous two years.
In the secondary categories, the Englishman Jude Bellingham (best young player) and the Argentinian Emiliano Martinez (best goalkeeper) won two awards.
The FIFA ceremony, which has been competing for the Ballon d’Or since 2016, is scheduled to be held at the beginning of next year.
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