Barcelona Legend Snubs Leo Messi in 2023 Ballon d’Or Race Ahead of Haaland Battle
- A former Barcelona striker has snubbed Lionel Messi in the Ballon d’Or debate
- The veteran is expected to go toe-to-toe with Erling Haaland for the 2023 award
- The ex-striker believes there are three other candidates ahead of the Argentine
Barcelona legend, Patrick Kluivert, recently ruffled a few feathers when he conspicuously omitted Lionel Messi from his list of preferred winners of the 2023 Ballon d’Or award.
Messi is highly expected to challenge for his record-extending eighth title at this year’s awards after guiding Argentina to World Cup victory in Qatar last year.
The triumph in 2022 saw the new Inter Miami player ‘complete football’ by winning the trophy on his fifth attempt.
He was the perceived frontrunner for the Ballon d’Or for quite some time until Erling Haaland inserted himself into the debate with record-breaking performances in his debut season in England.
The Norwegian scored 52 goals in 53 appearances as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side completed the treble by beating Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League final on June 10.
Kluivert’s Ballon d’Or options
Kluivert, however, believes three other players deserve the 2023 gong ahead of Barcelona’s most decorated player of all time.
“One of Haaland, [Kylian] Mbappé, or Vinícius [Junior] will win the Ballon d’Or,” he said, as quoted by Sportskeeda.
At face value, it will be hard to see how either Mbappe or Vini will usurp Messi in the vote, given the latter’s World Cup performances, as documented in the 2023 Ballon d’Or rankings by Starcoded.
The Frenchman was the top scorer in Qatar, but his country finished second. The Brazilian enjoyed a brilliant run of goal-scoring form with Real Madrid but could only land the Copa Del Rey and Club World Cup trophies.
This year’s Ballon d’Or award ceremony will take place on October 30.
Changes to Ballon d’Or rules
Sports Brief previously reported that the 2023 Ballon d’Or debate has already shaped into a battle between an existing superstar and one of his heirs apparent.
35-year-old Messi is still in the running to win the coveted individual prize for a record-extending eighth time, yet City star, Haaland, could have something to say.
L’Equipe, the publication which organises the annual gala event each year, has revealed changes to Ballon d’Or rules as of 2021, shortly after Messi won his seventh.