The Copa América victory has catapulted Messi towards his seventh Ballon d'Or
Leo Messi broke clear from Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo in 2019. Until then, both players had won five Ballon d'Ors a piece. However, the Argentina star became the only player in history to hold six of the trophies awarded by France Football in last year's edition. Barça's number 10, however, is never satisfied with what he has. As Xavi Hernández once said, "winning is a drug". And the best player of all time only thinks about winning: this is what makes him what he is. Messi is on track for his seventh Ballon d'Or: a unattainable dream for mere mortals, but not for the Argentina captain.
He received his first award in 2009, after Barça's first treble under Pep Guardiola. Six Ballon d'Ors in ten years may soon become seven awards in twelve years. On the occasions that he didn't win it, the trophy was picked up by Cristiano Ronaldo (4 times) and Luka Modric (1 time).
Not even the lack of a Champions League since 2015 can overshadow Messi's brilliance every season. Last season, even though Barça only managed to win the Copa del Rey, Messi registered 46 goals and 16 assists. If we add the fact that Messi also led his country to Copa América glory, it becomes clear that he is the outright favourite for this year's Ballon d'Or. While being knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage may work against him, but the influence he has over the Barça squad and - as was seen during last weekend's celebrations - over the Argentina squad, shows that his team mates consider him to be the best player on the planet.
Messi stands unrivalled. This might seem like an outlandish statement, but it's hard to argue against it. Those who have sufficient media clout do not get close to Leo in terms of titles. And those who have lifted trophies in the past season do not have the required pull to win enough votes. Neymar, for example, is a world class player who can do incredible things on the pitch, but he hasn't won anything notable (only the French Cup). He also lost to Messi's Argentina in the final of the Copa América, failed to win Ligue 1 and was once more unable to challenge for the Champions League. The Brazilian's numbers are good, with 24 goals and 18 assists in the last season. However, even in this regard he falls short of his friend Leo. Neymar's team mate at PSG, Kylian Mbappé, won the same amount of trophies as Neymar and got knocked out of the European Championship at the quarter final stage with France. You just cannot compare him to Messi.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi's main rival over the years for the Ballon d'Or, doesn't get close to him for what he achieved with Portugal. Despite being the top scorer at Euro 2020 with five goals (the same amount as Czech forward Patrik Schick), he failed to win the Serie A title with Juventus despite getting on the score sheet 36 times. Another contender is Robert Lewandowski, who scored 48 goals and registered 9 assists last season for Bayern Munich as they picked up their ninth consecutive Bundesliga title. However, due to the strength of the Polish national team, he was unable to do anything of note at this summer's European Championship. Neither was he able to retain the Champions League. Saying that, he did manage to win the European Golden Boot last season.
The aforementioned players have significant media clout, but they didn't win enough trophies. The opposite can be said for Chelsea's midfield pairing of Ngolo Kanté and Jorginho. Despite winning the Champions League and, in the case of Jorginho, also winning Euro 2020 with Italy, it's difficult to see either of these players winning the 2021 Ballon d'Or. Even further away are players such as Harry Kane, Karim Benzema and Erling Haaland, who have never won the award before and are unlikely to do so this season. There's a long way to go in the race, but Messi is already clearly ahead of his competitors.
Su relación con el premio
Leo Messi got on the podium for the first time in 2007, finishing third behind Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo. Since then, he's only failed to finish in the top three on one occasion, doing so in 2018. He's been in the top three on twelve occasions, winning the Ballon d'Or six times, finishing second five times and third in 2007.