It was expected, it is now done. Winner of the World Cup in Qatar and voted best player of the competition, Lionel Messi was the big favorite to succeed Karim Benzema on the Golden Ball list. In an evening with little suspense, it was the Argentinian who won the holy grail of individual football trophies, ahead of Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé.
A success hailed by L’Équipe: “Infinitely great”. Not really the same wavelength on the side of Libération, where we can read the following play on words: “Messi, no problem”. Supported by reproaches addressed to the former Parisian: "Playing as little as possible in clubs, flattering sporting authorities and sponsors, the Argentine player's strategy has paid off." But it is not the only newspaper to be critical of Messi and France Football.
Erling Haaland, author of the hat-trick with Manchester City last season (Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League), also claimed to be the winner of this 67th edition. Notably beating the record for goals scored in a Premier League season (36), the Norwegian is coming out of a very high-level 2022/2023 exercise, without managing to steal the trophy from Messi. The Norwegian press was not particularly moved by it, still making its front pages with “the cyborg”. Like the Dagbladet which announces: “beaten by Messi” while the Bergens Tidende honors “the best striker in the world”, rewarded with the Gerd Müller trophy awarded to the most prolific player of the season.
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In Spain, the Rosario native's favorite playground for years, the Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo proudly signs: "Aitana and Messi: another double with Barça DNA", thus honoring the Golden Ball feminine. A completely different opinion from As, who wonders “how much did each golden ball cost Messi?” notably calling into question those of 2010 and 2021. The Citizen midfielder, Rodri, caused a sensation by finishing in the best place in the Ballon d'Or since Iniesta in 2012. Finally, Marca did not do it by half measures: “Messi wins an eighth Golden Ball and names his heirs”, estimating that “Messi is the king of Paris… and of the world”. And to finish this tour of Europe, the German daily Bild did not engage in controversy, simply stating: "Messi wins the Ballon d'Or", with one consultant believing that it is "the work of 'a life."
As could be expected, the Argentine press was rave about the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner, who brought the Albiceleste the third World Cup in its history. The general feeling is well summed up by Clarin, where we can read: “Lionel Messi wins his eighth Ballon d’Or: a reward for his most “earthly” season, but with “the summit of the World Cup in Qatar.” A trophy which weighed heavily in the balance, and which came to complete the dream of the man who now lives in Miami: “time passes but, at 36 years, 4 months and 6 days, he finally lifted the golden ball after winning the World Cup. Nacion even signed the Argentinian genius himself in his front page: “Ballon d’Or 2023: Messi wins the prize again, moved, and says he is “proud not to have stopped trying”.
His return to the country, in mid-November, will be the occasion for a new communion with the Argentine public. Crowned with the glory of an eighth Ballon d'Or won, a performance never achieved before.