Lionel Messi, the captain of the Argentina national team, has won the Ballon d’Or for the eighth time, extending his record after outperforming Erling Haaland, the best player in Europe and a treble winner with Manchester City.
The 36-year-old player now boasts three more Ballon d’Or trophies than his rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who last won his fifth in 2017.
Messi has thus secured a top-three finish a total of 14 times, setting a record, and he has been the runner-up on five occasions.
Messi, who first claimed the Ballon d’Or in 2009 and received four consecutive awards until 2012, finished second behind Haaland in the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year awards in August.
Haaland, a 23-year-old, was one of the top contenders for his first Ballon d’Or, having scored 52 goals in 53 matches across all competitions last season. He contributed significantly to Manchester City’s victories in the UEFA Champions League, the English Premier League, and the English FA Cup.
However, Lionel Messi’s remarkable performance at the Qatar World Cup, where he won the Ballon d’Or as the best player and the Silver Boot (with seven goals and three assists), helped him outshine the Norwegian forward to claim the award.
The World Cup was the only major tournament that had eluded Messi, with Argentina making up for their loss in the 2014 final against Germany. Moreover, Messi became the third player in history to score 100 international goals.
Messi also secured the French league title with Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Inter Miami, where he played a pivotal role in the American club’s victory in the MLS (Major League Soccer) Cup, marking the team’s first major title in its history.