British journo says Bellingham should win Ballon d'Or: 'Messi scored once in MLS'

British journo says Bellingham should win Ballon d'Or: 'Messi scored once in MLS'

The Athletic's editor Raphael Honigstein actually insists Jude Bellingham deserves to win the 2023 Ballon d'Or ahead of Lionel Messi.

Let's look at how he explains it.

"Lionel Messi. I get it. The World Cup with Argentina. Then the MLS-Liga MX Leagues Cup with Inter Miami. One goal and two assists in the MLS regular season. Huge, historic.

"But is the 36-year-old the world's best player right now, or is he rather the world's best walking footballer, strolling around pitches from Doha to Dallas, waiting to come alive long enough to add another couple of YouTube highlights to the library?

"Come on. Be honest here. To put it differently, if Messi was available for a reasonable combination of fee and wages tomorrow, which top European clubs would really vie for his services? I can't think of many.

"Jude Bellingham, on the other hand? Nobody would get more offers on an open market. Not even Haaland. The 20-year-old — yes, he's still only 20 — has smashed all expectations in his first three months at Real Madrid, playing with a swagger and natural authority that befit world football’s heaviest shirt.

"But it's not just the goals in Spain, even though he has scored a ridiculous number of them already.

"Bellingham has also become England's best player this year, had a much better second half of 2022-23 at Borussia Dortmund than Messi did with Paris Saint-Germain (eight goals in Ligue 1! Ooh la la!) and so very nearly led them to their first German championship in 11 years. Is it a coincidence they slipped up against Mainz on the final day of the season when he was out with an injury? Probably not.

"My point is, Bellingham is by far the most exciting player to watch at the moment, an all-action freak of a man who doesn't stop doing thrilling things for the entire 90 minutes, every goddamn game! And that's what it’s all about."

Looks like someone should really read the Ballon d'Or rules all over again.

Since last year, only the performances of a previous season are taken into account by the voters, which means Jude Bellingham's Real Madrid career shouldn't be considered at all – as well as Leo Messi's time with Inter Miami.

Messi may not be considered the best player in the world at the moment, but he surely deserves to be in contention for the Ballon d'Or based on his last season's performances, which include the historic World Cup campaign.

Let's not forget Leo had a much better season with Paris Saint-Germain than the 2021/22, scoring 21 goals and providing 20 assists. This alone shows how good he was despite the early Champions League elimination.

Bellingham is already a strong candidate to win it next year, when the 2023/24 season will be considered, but surely not now – it should go to Messi instead.
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