Seven-time champion Lionel Messi speaks candidly on Karim Benzema winning the Ballon d’Or in 2022

Lionel Messi, the Argentine World Cup-winning captain, holds the record for the most Ballon d’Or titles in history, having won the award seven times. The prestigious accolade is given by France Football. The only player close to his achievement is the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won it five times.

Since 1956, the Golden Ball has stood as one of the most prestigious individual titles awarded to a player based on their performance in the previous season. Journalists from the top 100 FIFA-ranked nations vote for their top three picks. In 2022, Messi praised Karim Benzema for winning the award.

Lionel Messi on Benzema’s Ballon d’Or win

In the past decade, only the names Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated the awards, although both legends have left Europe and embarked on new club endeavors in MLS and the Saudi Pro League respectively. The only two players who managed to break their streak and lift the illustrious trophy were Luka Modric in 2018 and Karim Benzema in 2022.

In the 2021-22 season, the former Real Madrid striker, Benzema, won the Ballon d’Or due to his exceptional performances in the Champions League and La Liga. His heroics helped Los Blancos lift both titles, making him the second player to win the prestigious award during the Messi-Ronaldo dominance era, following Modric.

Recently in a documentary, Messi praised Benzema for his maiden Ballon d’Or title, claiming he really deserved the award. 

Messi said, “I think Benzema was a fair winner. He deserves it for the great year he had and what he has been doing throughout his career. He is a wonderful player and I think it is important for him and for soccer that he has this recognition.”

Messi’s chances of winning the Ballon d’Or this year

It’s no longer suspense that the former Barcelona talisman, Lionel Messi is on the verge of winning his 8th on October 30th. He is ahead of Manchester City and the Premier League Golden Boot winner, Erling Haaland, who helped his team clinch the treble in the previous season. Following his sensational World Cup 2022 campaign for Argentina that saw the Albicelestes lift the most coveted title of international football, Messi moved to MLS in the summer and guided his team to their first-ever Leagues Cup trophy in August.

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The Inter Miami star assisted his former side PSG in winning the French League and Super Cup, contributing to 41 goals with 21 goals and 20 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions in the 2022/23 season. The most iconic highlight of his sensational campaign was when he led La Albiceleste to World Cup glory in Qatar 2022, scoring 7 goals during the campaign and securing Argentina’s 3rd world title. 

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