Lionel Messi successfully defended his FIFA Best Men’s Player Award title in London on Monday by finishing ahead of Erling Haaland of Manchester City and Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain.
The timeframe for the award was set up between Dec. 19, 2022 and Aug. 20, 2023. It’s worth noting that Messi won the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar a day before the timeline for the 2023 awards opened. Voters for the awards includes journalists, fans, national team captains and managers.
The Argentina international won the 2022 edition after leading his nation to the FIFA World Cup title in Qatar that same year but his PSG and Inter Miami form — Ligue 1 and Leagues Cup — is what made a surprise 2023 win ahead of the Norwegian goal machine who helped to fire Pep Guardiola’s dominant side to UEFA Champions League success to complete the treble.
Messi, Haaland and Mbappe were all absent so there was never going to be an emotional acceptance speech onstage at the Eventim Apollo in London from the winner. “I turned up,” joked former Barcelona teammate and event host Thierry Henry of the legendary Argentinian’s absence. Messi has only just linked back up with his Miami teammates in the U.S. ahead of a to prepare for the 2024 Major League Soccer campaign.
That makes it a Ballon d’Or and FIFA Best double for Messi, who is now expected to hand over the mantle to Haaland and Mbappe to pick up when the South American and Cristiano Ronaldo eventually stop winning these awards. Elsewhere, unsurprisingly, Barcelona and Spain’s Aitana Bonmati also made it a Ballon d’Or and FIFA Best double by finishing ahead of Jenni Hermoso and Linda Caicedo.