The 2023 Ballon d'Or race is heating up, with Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland as the frontrunners for the prestigious award.
Messi led Argentina to their first World Cup title in 37 years, scoring twice in the final against Brazil in Qatar. He also won the Ligue 1 title with Paris Saint-Germain, before moving to Inter Miami in the MLS.
Haaland, on the other hand, had a sensational debut season with Manchester City, scoring 41 goals in all competitions and helping them win the treble of Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League. He also won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award, beating Messi and his teammate Kevin De Bruyne.
However, former England striker Darren Bent believes that Messi has the edge over Haaland for the Ballon d'Or, and he explained why on talkSPORT.
"He hasn't been the best in the past 12 months, but in the World Cup, he carried his team to the World Cup final. He scored two in the final as well. The moment he lifted that World Cup, he was always going to win that Ballon d'Or," Bent said.
Bent added that Messi's legacy and influence on the game also make him a worthy winner of the award, which he has already won six times before.
"He's done so much for football. He's been one of the best players ever. He's changed the way people play football. He deserves it," Bent said.
The winner of the 2023 Ballon d'Or will be announced on December 6 in Paris. Messi and Haaland are expected to be among the top three finalists, along with Robert Lewandowski, who won the award last year.