Messi ‘to be next recipient’ of football’s most prestigious award

Argentina fans hail Messi after reaching World Cup final

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Lionel Messi could become one of just two players to win the Super Ballon d’Or after spearheading Argentina’s successful World Cup campaign earlier this month, according to reports. The 35-year-old stole the show in Qatar as he led the Albiceleste to their first global triumph since 1986 and picked up the Golden Ball award in recognition of his impressive showings, which arguably etched his name into the history books as the undisputed best player of all time.

Messi broke a number of incredible records on his way to winning the World Cup and it seems as though his legacy could soon be recognised with one of the most prestigious awards in world football in the not-too-distant future. It has been speculated that the Argentina talisman may be on course to scoop the Super Ballon d’Or, which is given to the best-performing player over the last three decades.

The award has only previously been won once, with Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano taking it home back in 1989. The former Spain international managed to pip Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini to the prize after lifting five European Cups on the bounce with Los Blancos in the late 1950s.

France Football, the organisation that governs the Ballon d’Or, has not given out the award since then but it would not be a surprise to see Messi become the next recipient after adding a World Cup win to his list of incredible career achievements. The Rosario native has scored 799 goals while also providing 388 assists in 1,025 games for club and country and few would argue that he does not deserve to be recognised for his contribution to the game in this way.

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Messi’s latest triumph on the international stage in Qatar has led many onlookers to conclude that he has now surpassed the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele in the all-time pecking order and can now be considered as the single greatest player in the history of the game. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who managed Messi at the peak of his powers during his time in charge of Barcelona, insisted on Wednesday that he cannot see any reason why the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is not the best player to ever lace up a pair of boots.

“Everyone has an opinion but nobody can doubt that he is there, with the greatest of all time,” said Guardiola. “For me I said many times, he is the best, but it will be difficult to understand.

“A player can appear and compete with what he has done in the last 50 years to 70 years, but the people who saw Pele or Di Stefano or Maradona, they can say their favourite.

“In their opinions they are sentimental, you know? But on the other side, if he [Messi] had not won the World Cup, my opinion about what he has done for world football, it wouldn’t have changed absolutely anything. Of course, for him it’s the final achievement of an incredible career.”

Guardiola’s view was also echoed by former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta, who told ESPN: “For me, Messi is the best with or without a World Cup. I think the fact he has won a World Cup, more than what other people [think], is a huge source of happiness for himself.

“Not just for him, but for Argentina as a country. They are always in the running and the fact they’ve won it in the way they did makes it totally deserved. I am sure anyone who doesn’t view Messi as the best will find an excuse to keep seeing it that way, regardless of whether he won the World Cup or not.”

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