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This 36-year-old baller is set to win his eighth Ballon d'Or to seal off the GOAT debate



This 36-year-old baller is set to win his eighth Ballon d'Or to seal off the GOAT debate

 

Lionel Messi 'beats Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe to eighth Ballon d'Or'

 

 

Inter Miami and Argentina captain Lionel Messi will win a record-breaking eighth Ballon d'Or at the Paris ceremony later this month, according to a report.

 

 

The prestigious accolade will be awarded at Paris' Theatre du Chatelet on October 30, where Messi will make his return to the French capital a few months after his departure from Paris Saint-Germain.

 

 

The 36-year-old struggled to settle in Ligue 1 following his emotional exit from Barcelona, but he helped Les Parisiens clinch a second successive top-flight title last term, amassing 16 goals and 16 assists in 32 games along the way.

 

 

No player registered more assists in the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season than Messi, whose closest challengers Neymar and Jonathan Clauss set up 11 goals each, and the Argentine was named the division's best foreign player and also earned a place in the Team of the Year.

 

 

Despite recording four goals and four assists in seven Champions League games, Messi and PSG suffered last-16 heartbreak against Bayern Munich, but the attacker finally conquered the world with Argentina at the fifth time of asking in Qatar.

 

 

La Albiceleste ended a 36-year wait for their third World Cup crown by defeating France on penalties in the final, after which Messi was presented with the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.

 

 

The Inter Miami attacker became the only player with two Golden Ball prizes to his name in Qatar, while his seven goals also earned him the Silver Boot behind Kylian Mbappe (eight).

 

 

Messi's domestic and international exploits unsurprisingly saw him nominated for the Ballon d'Or for the 16th time, and according to Sport, the Argentine will get his hands on the trophy again.

 

 

The former Barcelona man had previously claimed the prize in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021, and he will become the first player not representing a European club to clinch the honour.

 

 

Messi's crowning will see the Inter Miami man fend off a host of other notable candidates, including Erling Haaland, who broke records left, right and centre during Manchester City's famous treble-winning campaign.

 

 

The Norway international broke the single-season Premier League goalscoring record with 36 strikes in just 35 matches, as well as netting 12 goals en route to the Citizens' maiden Champions League honour.

 

 

However, Haaland appears to have controversially lost out to Messi, while six other Man City players - including Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri - have also fallen short.

 

 

Messi's former teammate Mbappe was also up for the 2023 Ballon d'Or, as were the likes of Jude Bellingham, Victor Osimhen, Harry Kane and current holder Karim Benzema.

 

 

In addition to Messi's triumph, the report adds that Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati has won her first-ever Ballon d'Or Feminin prize on the back of Spain's success at the Women's World Cup.

 

 

As was the case with Messi, Bonmati won the Golden Ball at this year's Women's World Cup, and the 25-year-old also clinched Champions League and Primera Division glory with La Blaugrana.

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