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Last night, the FIFA The Best awards were handed out in a ceremony in Paris. A number of members of the Argentina World Cup-winning squad were rewarded for their exploits in Qatar this winter with Lionel Messi taking home the prize for The Best Men’s footballer in 2022.
The other two nominees for the top award were Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema. While Mbappe had a wonderful year, many believed that the race was truly between Benzema and Messi.
After taking on the role as the spearhead of Real Madrid’s frontline after Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure in 2018, the Frenchman has aged like a fine and had the season of his life in 2021/22. He was instrumental as Real Madrid won their 14th Champions League title and he scored 44 goals and provided 15 assists in 46 appearances in all competitions for Los Blancos.
While that was enough for him to secure his first Ballon d’Or in October, it wasn’t enough for him to pick up the top gong at FIFA’s awards last night. Messi’s triumph with Argentina is fresh in the memory and the PSG forward’s performances in Qatar truly were mesmerizing at times.
Alaba votes for Messi
In an interesting turn of events, David Alaba voted for Lionel Messi ahead of Karim Benzema. The Austria captain is a teammate of Benzema’s at club level which has got tongues wagging across Europe.
However, all is apparently not as it seems. Although Alaba was credited with the vote, he says that the decision was made for him by fellow members of the Austrian national team. The 30-year-old said:
“The Austrian national team vote for this award as a team, not me alone. Everyone in the team council is able to vote and that’s how it’s decided. Everyone knows, especially Karim, how much I admit him and his performances and I have often said that for me he is the best striker in the world, and that is still the case without a doubt.”
Regarding FIFA The Best Award:
The Austrian national team vote for this award as a team, not me alone. Everyone in the team council is able to vote and that's how it's decided.
Everyone knows, especially Karim, how much I admire him and his performances
— David Alaba (@David_Alaba) February 28, 2023
With the issue put to bed Alaba will be able to look Benzema in the eye in training this week. Real Madrid are preparing for a mammoth tie with Barcelona on Thursday in the first leg of their Copa Del Rey semi-final. They will need both men at their best if they are to take down their historic rivals, who will be without star striker, Robert Lewandowski.
Other winners on the night
Although Messi took home the prize for best men’s player, a further eight individual awards were handed out at the event. England forward, Beth Mead, will feel hard done to after missing out on the prize for best women’s player after Barcelona midfielder Alexia Putellas won the award for the second consecutive year.
Elsewhere, Emiliano Martinez won the award for best men’s goalkeeper after his heroics at the World Cup and his national team manager, Lionel Scaloni took home the prize for best men’s coach. The Argentinian fans completed a fabulous night for Argentinians as they won the award for the best fans of 2022.
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