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Now that the end of the footballing calendar is in sight, attention will swiftly turn to the individual awards after a dramatic 2022/23 campaign in European football. Lionel Messi could claim his eighth Ballon d’Or, with the Argentine standing as the firm favourite to win the prestigious prize in October.
Standout season for Lionel Messi
There’s very rarely a time when Messi doesn’t capture the eye of the globe during the football calendar, however this year the 36-year-old cemented himself as a World Cup winner, captaining his country to their first World Cup win since 1986. It was fitting that in the first World Cup since the tragic loss of Diego Maradona, Messi followed in his countryman’s footsteps to fire the side to the top spot.
— Patrick Witty (@patrickwitty) December 18, 2022
Just like Maradona, the modern day footballing icon was named the tournaments Best Player, leading his country by example in scoring seven goals and registering three assists in seven appearances, including two goals in the final.
While the world watched in awe as the generational talent lifted the World Cup, his influence on the national team was most prominent, however his domestic campaign was ever impressive for a player of 36-years-old playing in one of the continents best leagues.
In 41 total appearances for Paris Saint Germain this season, the Rosario-born hero recorded 41 goal contributions in scoring 21 and assisting 20 in an ever dominant personal term.
The Argentine ended the season with a World Cup, Ligue 1 trophy and French Supercup to his name, adding to his collection of career accolades.
A new future for Lionel Messi
For the first time in his career, Messi will venture outside of Europe to endeavour on the closing stages of his illustrious career, with Inter Miami the grateful receivers of the marvel’s talent. The former La Masia graduate and Barcelona legend will be joined by his former colleague Sergio Busquets in the MLS, with both players turning down big money opportunities to relocate to Saudi Arabia.
Messi’s contract will officially expire with PSG on June 30th, with it speculated that the World Cup winner will make his debut for his new club on July 21st with Mexican outfit Cruz Azul as the opponent.
So, we now know when Lionel Messi will play his first game in the snazzy pink colors of Inter Miami. It will be on July 21, against Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup. Mark the date.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 20, 2023
Top Five Ballon d’Or candidates
While the Argentine is the firm favourite to snatch his eighth Ballon d’Or, let’s take a look at the top five candidates based and their odds:
Lionel Messi 1/3: 21 goals & 20 assists for PSG. World Cup, Ligue 1 and French Supercup winner.
Erling Haaland 9/4: 51 goals & nine assists for Manchester City. Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League winner.
Kevin De Bruyne 33/1: 10 goals & 31 assists for Manchester City. Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League winner.
Kylian Mbappe 50/1: 41 goals & 10 assists for PSG. Ligue 1 and French Supercup winner.
Vinicius Jr 80/1: 23 goals & 21 assists for Real Madrid. FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Supercup winner, Spanish Cup winner.
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