Barcelona missed out to old rivals Real Madrid for last season’s La Liga title, and Lionel Messi will be keen not to let Madrid get the better of him again as he faces stiff competition for this year’s prestigious Ballon D’Or from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite the Portuguese playing a key role in a campaign which saw the La Liga trophy prised out of Pep Guariola’s fingers for the first time in three years, the diminutive Argentinian had an eventful year of his own, and is favourite to be crowned the world’s best player for the third year running.
He managed a record-breaking tally of 50 La Liga goals to snatch the Pichichi top goalscorer award from Ronaldo, and overall managed an astonishing tally of 72 goals in all competitions, unprecedented in modern times and smashing the record for the number of goals in a season in Spanish football.
In March he also wrote himself into the Barcelona record books, surpassing club legend Cesar Rodriguez’s record of 232 goals in official competitions, and at the modest age of 25 looks set to raise that bar even further.
Messi has had vocal support from a number of sources. Team mate Gerard Pique has recently backed his prolific colleague, saying: “It’s difficult to guess who will win the Ballon d’Or this year, but in my opinion, Messi is the best player in the world.”
Legendary former Argenita coach Alfio Basile has also touted his compatriot for victory with praise of interplanetary proportions: “You cannot compare anyone to Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo is a great human player, but Messi is a Martian. He can run with the ball at an even higher speed than without the ball.”
Although the call between Messi and Ronaldo is an extremely difficult one, Messi has undoubtedly had a fantastic season and will be eagerly anticipating the awards ceremony in January.