Messi vs Haaland Ballon d’Or battle – Who will win in 2023?

Messi vs Haaland Ballon d’Or battle – Who will win in 2023?- The fight to win the Ballon d’or 2023 appears to be a straight shootout between seven-time winner Lionel Messi and Manchester City goal machine Erling Haaland. 

A compelling case could be made for either man, but for all of Haaland’s exploits, those responsible for Ballon d’Or odds see Messi’s World Cup win of last December as the ultimate trump card.

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Efe/ABACAPRESS.COM// Juan Ignacio Roncoroni – Photo by Icon sport

A litany of greatness

Before getting his hands on the trophy in Qatar, a World Cup win was just about the only thing lacking from Messi’s remarkable career. He won a record-breaking 34 trophies at Barcelona, including four Champions League titles, before moving to Paris, where he was a league winner in each of his two seasons with PSG.

At 23, it’s only natural that Erling Haaland cannot compete with Messi’s impressive trophy haul. But he is a treble winner, with Manchester City’s historic feat propelling the striker into contention to join the list of Ballon d’Or winners.

Haaland’s goalscoring stats are currently second to none. He averaged a goal every 77 minutes during his debut Premier League season, and fired in 52 across all competitions for City last term.

By contrast, Messi managed just 32 in total across his two seasons with PSG.  However it’s fair to say that Messi’s game has evolved as he has aged. And even now, Haaland’s current rapid goalscoring rate still doesn’t compare to the astonishing 92 goals that the Argentina legend managed in the space of just one calendar year in 2012.

Messi vs Haaland Ballon d’Or rivalry is like no other

While numbers speak volumes, a good look at the respective legacies of recent years will be a very significant factor in the decision-making process.

Erling Haaland
Photo by PictureAlliance / Icon Sport

Haaland lights up the Bundesliga (2020)

Erling Haaland joined Borussia Dortmund in the 2020 January transfer window and quickly established himself as one of European football’s hottest properties. He netted 41 times in all competitions during his first full season in Germany.

(Photo by Anthony Bibard/FEP/Icon Sport)

Messi heads to Paris (2021)

With cash-strapped Barcelona increasingly feeling the financial strain, Messi ended his 21-year association with the club in the summer of 2021. His tearful goodbye was soon followed by the announcement of a new chapter with the forward signing a two year deal to join PSG.

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Photo by CFOTO/SPUS/ABACAPRESS.COM – Photo by Icon sport

Messi wins his seventh Ballon d’Or (2021)

The Covid-19 pandemic meant the Ballon d’Or was not awarded in 2020, but 2019 winner Messi was the victor again for a record-extending seventh time in 2021. Despite only winning the Copa del Rey during his final season at Barcelona, Copa America glory with Argentina helped Messi claim the prestigious honour once more.

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Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (second left) celebrates scoring his side;s second goal of the game during the Premier League match at the London Stadium. Picture date: Sunday August 7, 2022. – Photo by Icon sport

Haaland becomes a city slicker (2022)

Manchester City activated Erling Haaland’s €60m release clause in May 2022, and it wasn’t long before he was tearing up the Premier League. A brace on his league debut in England (pictured above) was the start of a record breaking season as the striker set a new high for Premier League goals in a single campaign with 36.

Photo by Anthony Bibard/FEP/Icon Sport

Messi finally wins the big one (2022)

While already an undisputed all-time great, Messi’s inability to produce his best football on the World Cup stage was the one big argument against his status as the very best of all time. That all changed during a wild few weeks in Qatar in late 2022, as Argentina won the trophy for the third time with Messi instrumental throughout.

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DeFodi Images / Icon Sport

Haaland the treble winner (2023)

Erling Haaland capped a remarkable debut season in England in terms of personal achievements, by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League with Manchester City.

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Source: FOX Soccer via X

Messi an instant hit in Miami (2023)

While his Parisian dream did turn slightly sour, Messi has settled very nicely into life in Florida. Joining one of the weakest MLS teams, the 36 year old has proved the catalyst for a remarkable transformation in Inter Miami’s fortunes with 10 goals in 7 appearances helping the club win the inaugural Leagues Cup.

Messi vs Haaland Ballon d’Or battle – Weighing up the credentials

The Messi v Haaland debate is set to dominate the build up to this year’s Ballon d’or. In terms of club football in 2023, there can be little doubt that Haaland has the edge, with both his personal and team achievements trumping those of Messi.

Crucially though, the winter 2022 World Cup is a factor that those voting have to consider. From Zinedine Zidane in 1998 to Ronaldo in 2002 and Luka Modric in 2018, brilliant World Cup performances have frequently been enough to tilt the scales when it comes to this award.

Messi’s seven goals and three assists in Qatar included a brace in the final, making him the outstanding candidate for the 2023 Ballon d’Or. Haaland’s failure to score or make a defining contribution in either the Champions League semi-final or final also counts against him, although his time will surely come again in the mid-to-late 2020s after Messi has finally retired.

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