For the first time since 2005, Lionel Messi is not included in the Top 30 list of nominees for football’s most prestigious individual award – the Ballon d’Or. It has come as a shock to millions of football fans all around the world that one of football’s living legends will not stand a chance to win the Ballon d’Or, despite winning it last year. Messi is the only player in football history to have won the prestigious Golden Ball a record seven times. He is also the only player to have won the award four times in a row. Lionel Messi left Barcelona last year to join French side Paris Saint-Germain and won the league in his first season. He also won the French Super Cup ahead of the 2022-23 season.
So the question is, why was Messi not included in the top 30 list of nominees for the 2022 Ballon d’Or? Moreover, was it fair to exclude Messi from the list of the world’s top 30 players?
Revised Ballon d’Or criterion
As per the revised criterion, the winner will be assessed based on their form of the previous season rather than the calendar year, which was the norm until now. Messi’s performance last season was below par compared to his previous seasons. His 2021-22 season was plagued with injuries, which resulted in the 35-year-old scoring just six goals out of 26 league games. This was also the first time since the 2005-06 season that Messi failed to score goals in double figures in a single season.
Moreover, since the revised criteria focus on the performance of the previous season and not the calendar year, Messi’s Copa America success does not account for the 2022 Ballon d’Or nomination.
Although Messi provided 14 assists in league games and scored five goals in the Champions League last season, his efforts weren’t enough to earn himself a spot on the Ballon d’Or nominees’ list. His close friend and teammate, Neymar was also omitted from the list of the world’s 30 best players for the much-coveted award.
Ronaldo nominated despite dismal club results
Cristiano Ronaldo is nominated for the 2022 Ballon d’Or despite his club’s poor results. Manchester United finished sixth in the 2021-22 Premier League season, barely escaping the humiliation of playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League. United also failed to win a single trophy last season. However, Ronaldo managed to score 18 goals in a rather poor season in 30 league games. He also has six Champions League goals to his name from last season, which helped him earn the Ballon d’Or nomination.
Lionel Messi, who has had an impressive first season with his new club as well as his nation, did not qualify for the 2022 Ballon d’Or due to his sub-par stats, despite his club’s success. On the other hand, Ronaldo is one of the 30 nominees for his impressive stats with a club who had a dismal season.
Bitter pill to swallow
Messi is the most successful player in football history in terms of winning the Ballon d’Or. He has won the Golden Ball a record seven times and has always been a nominee until this year. So historically speaking, it is a tough pill to swallow. However, one must make peace with such remodelling.
Messi’s exclusion from the 2022 Ballon d’Or is as justified as Robert Lewandowski not winning it last year, despite winning the sextuple with Bayern Munich and breaking the five-decade-long record of most goals in a single season.
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