PARIS, France, November 30– Some might wonder if Lionel Messi really deserved to win his final Ballon d’Or award ahead of other worthy contenders, but the Argentine has been rewarded for continuing to be this good for so long.
The most eventful year of Messi’s brilliant career, in which he was forced to bid farewell to Barcelona in tears, ends with him – at the age of 34 – winning a seventh Ballon d’Or record for the best player in the world.
In Germany, they believed it must have been Robert Lewandowski’s year after missing his appearance 12 months ago when the 2020 edition was scrapped due to the pandemic.
Karim Benzema might have had a lot of support in Spain for his remarkable performances with Real Madrid, and Jorginho could claim a claim after a year in which he won the Champions League with Chelsea as well as Euro 2020 with Italy.
Yet it is the lasting brilliance of Messi – who won the last award in 2019 – that stays on the minds of jurors when it comes to voting.
Having joined Paris Saint-Germain in August, he is the first male player to win the award while at a French club since Jean-Pierre Papin of Marseille in 1991, although these are his achievements with Barcelona and with the ‘Argentina who counted for him to effectively retain his crown.
Messi tried unsuccessfully to force his departure from Barcelona in August 2020 but showed no sign of resentment as he stayed put at Camp Nou and finished last season with 38 goals in 48 games for his club. childhood.
– Finally an international success –
These are the kinds of remarkable numbers he’s made so mundane in his career – in fact, he had actually scored more goals than that in 10 of his previous 11 seasons.
Messi was La Liga’s top scorer for the fifth consecutive year with 30 goals and won the Copa del Rey, scoring twice in the final as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 4-0.
This will always be remembered as the year his long association with the Catalan giants came to an end, after 672 goals in 778 appearances, a club goal record.
However, 2021 was also the year he finally won a major international title, leading Argentina to Copa America victory with a 1-0 win over Brazil in the final at the Maracana.
He scored four goals in the tournament as Argentina won the South American Championship for the first time since 1993.
“I think I won this trophy thanks to what we did at the Copa America, so I dedicate it to my teammates,” he said after receiving his last Ballon d’Or at the Théâtre du Châtelet in central Paris.
– Unfinished –
However, the shame was that hardly any supporters were in the stadium to witness Argentina’s Copa America success due to the coronavirus restrictions, only adding to the feeling that despite everything he had accomplished, Messi still has unfinished business.
Notably at PSG, where he has so far only played 11 games since his arrival in August and has only scored four goals.
Messi provided three assists for the Parisians in a Ligue 1 game on Sunday, but it remains to be seen how motivated the Argentine is by the French league. He has other priorities.
“My dream is to win another Champions League,” he said when he was unveiled in August, with the last of his four European Cups scheduled for 2015.
Then there is the bigger one: The World Cup in Qatar will be underway around this time next year and Messi will then be 35 years old.
This will surely be his last chance to win the biggest trophy of all, and you imagine he would trade in his seven Ballons d’Or to get his hands on it.