Lionel Messi (36) won his eighth Ballon d’Or in Paris on Monday night and the Argentinian forward believes it will be his last.
No one has won the prestigious prize, awarded by France Football, as many times as the former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain forward. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (5) comes close.
This year, Messi beat Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappé to the prize. Ronaldo, however, wasn’t shortlisted. The Portuguese international now plays his club football with Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, whilst Messi is now in the MLS with Inter Miami.
“It was a great battle” – Messi on Ronaldo rivalry
Given that Messi and Ronaldo now play their football in different leagues on different continents, the former accepts that the “great battle” between the pair is now over.
“It was a great battle on a sporting level,” began Messi in an interview with L’Équipe. “We fed off the mutual rivalry because we are both great competitors. He also wanted to win all the time. It was a very nice period for us both to live through and also for the people that love football. I think we really deserved to have reached and to have maintained at the top for so long. Because as I say, it is easy to get there. What is difficult is to stay there and we stayed at the top for 10, to 15 years. That is very difficult to do. It is spectacular to have done so. It will remain a great memory for all of those that have followed us.”
“I haven’t thought about the Ballon d’Or for a long time” – Messi
Whilst their rivalry may be over, the ‘greatest of all time’ debate will continue to rumble on. Didier Deschamps waded in on the debate on Monday night and said that it is difficult to say that Messi is better than Ronaldo or even Mbappé, who is yet to win the Ballon d’Or. With the emergence of a new generation, Messi believes that he has now won his final Ballon d’Or.
“I haven’t thought about the Ballon d’Or for a long time. Winning the Ballon d’Or was never been a priority for me and even less so now after everything that I have accomplished in my career and compared to all of the other moments that I have experienced in my life. I think it is my last Ballon d’Or and I am happy to have achieved everything that I have achieved and to be the only player to have won eight Ballon d’Or,” said the Argentinian international, who last season added the final trophy, the World Cup, to his cabinet.
GFFN | Luke Entwistle