Messi secures his 8th Ballon d’Or surpassing Haaland (2nd) and Mbappe (3rd)

Lionel Messi has secured a historic eighth Ballon d’Or, surpassing Haaland (second place), Mbappe (third place) and Kevin De Bruyne (4th place), being credited with leading Argentina to victory at last year’s FIFA World Cup held in Qatar.

Messi, 36, also becomes the first MLS-based player to win the award, although his success is partly due to his accomplishments with his country in Qatar.

Haaland placed second in the voting and won the Gerd Muller Trophy, given to the top striker of the year, after scoring 52 goals, providing 10 assists and winning the treble with City in the 22/23 season.

“I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had. Everything that I’ve achieved,” Messi said after getting his award.

“The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It’s nice to win these individual trophies.”

“To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing. All of them [Ballon d’Or awards] are special for different reasons.”

Prior to the former Barcelona star earning his trophy, Aitana Bonmatí, a Barcelona and Spain midfielder, won the Ballon d’Or Féminin – a category for female best players, following a record-breaking year with club and country.

Last season, she helped Barça capture Liga F and the Champions League before leading Spain to a World Cup victory.

Other honors presented on Monday included Messi’s Argentina colleague Emiliano Martinez receiving the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper and England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham receiving the Kopa Trophy as the world’s finest player under the age of 21.

The Argentine player scored 21 goals in 41 games for Paris Saint-Germain last season before joining Inter Miami this year. Since joining the US-based club, he has scored 11 goals in 14 games, helping the team to their first-ever silverware, the Leagues Cup.

He was crowned Player of the Tournament after leading Argentina to victory in Qatar, scoring seven goals and assisting three more.

The former PSG player scored twice in the final and again in the penalty shootout against France, as Lionel Scaloni’s team won one of the competition’s most memorable games.

After failing to win the World Cup with Argentina in the previous four tournaments, including the 2014 final against Germany, many saw this as his final chance.

He also becomes the second-oldest player in history to win the Ballon d’Or, replacing last year’s winner, Karim Benzema. Only the first champion, Stanley Matthews in 1956, was older, winning at the age of 41.

Messi earned his first six Ballon d’Ors while playing for Barcelona, where he became the club’s record goalscorer and appearance holder, and he won it for the seventh time shortly after joining PSG in 2021 following Argentina’s Copa America championship.

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