Football icon, Lionel Messi is set to lift his eighth Ballon d’Or later this month after the winners for both the male and female awards for 2023 were leaked.
Messi, 36, achieved the crowning glory of his unparalleled career when he spectacularly led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year. The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain megastar then joined Inter Miami in July and immediately set MLS alight with a string of spellbinding performances.
After missing out on the 2022 award to Karim Benzema, Messi has reportedly been informed of his victory this time around ahead of the ceremony taking place in Paris on Monday, October 30. As for the female award, Catalan newspaper Sport add that Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati will be presented as the winner at the Chatelet Theater, having won the Women’s World Cup with Spain after beating England in August’s dramatic final.
Messi’s imminent triumph will see the Ballon d’Or awarded to someone who plays outside of Europe for the first time in history and take him three clear of eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo. The 36-year-old faced fierce competition from Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and ex-PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe but is set to come out on top thanks to his heroics in Qatar.
Haaland won the Treble with City last season by scoring a phenomenal 52 goals in 53 games. Mbappe, meanwhile, memorably bagged a hat-trick in the World Cup final against Messi’s Argentina and performed well during an underwhelming campaign for PSG.
Messi may be the most decorated footballer in history but maintains that he’s never given the Ballon d’Or much “importance”. The Argentine forward explained shortly after joining Inter Miami, co-owned by David Beckham: “I have said it many times, the Ballon d’Or is very important due to the recognition at the individual level, but I never gave it importance.