The Inter Miami soccer star is on course to win an eighth Ballon d’Or, but the Premier League icon believes another soccer star deserves it more.
West Ham United striker Michail Antonio has hit out at reports suggesting Lionel Messi will win the 2023 Ballon d’Or this year after the results were “leaked”. A Premier League footballer has claimed it would be a “scandal” if the World Cup winner scooped one of football’s most prestigious awards for the eighth time in his illustrious career.
Messi was tipped to win the Ballon d’Or after another incredible year lifting the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar. The former Barcelona star then sought a surprise move to MLS side Inter Miami after a two-year stint at Paris Saint-Germain, where he won two consecutive Ligue 1 titles.
The 36-year-old made his mark in Miami, scoring 11 goals and registering five assists in just 14 games. The football icon also helped win the club’s first trophy – the League Cup.
But despite his achievements, Antonio believes Manchester City striker Erling Haaland deserves the award more.
“I understand that Messi winning the World Cup is huge,” Antonio said via a soccer podcast. “But you can’t look past the treble and for what Haaland bought and broke records. He deserves the Ballon d’Or. If he doesn’t get it, it’s a scandal.”
Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson, who co-hosts the podcast, agreed with the claim. “What Haaland did last season cannot be overlooked,” he added. “If you take international football and compare statistically… Haaland should win the award.
“You can’t look past Messi winning his first World Cup because it’s a big contributing factor, but in terms of club football, he’s playing in America, which is very different to Haaland in the Premier League.”
Alongside Messi, who would become the first MLS player to win the award, Haaland is also in the running for the Ballon d’Or for the best men’s player with Manchester City teammate Rodrigo and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe. Several reports have claimed that Messi has already been informed of his victory, but Haaland is also betting on a strong claim.
The Norwegian scored a record 36 goals in his 35 Premier League appearances last season, beating Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s record of 34 goals in a 42-game season. The striker scored a total of 52 goals in all competitions and won the treble with the team – Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.
The winner of the 2023 Ballon d’Or will be revealed at the Theater du Chatelet in Paris on Monday 30 October.