Ballon d’Or: Messi goes by the wayside

A major absence: seven-time winner and defending champion, Argentine star Lionel Messi is paying a high price for his failed first season at PSG and is not part of the list of 30 named…

A major absence: seven-time winner and defending champion, Argentine star Lionel Messi is paying a high price for his failed first season at PSG and is not part of the list of 30 nominees for the 2022 Ballon d’Or unveiled on Friday.

This is quite an event, the Albiceleste genius being present among the contenders for this prestigious individual distinction since 2006 and on the podium almost continuously since 2007, except for a parenthesis in 2018.

But “La Pulga” was a victim of his poor performances in the Parisian jersey, especially since the Ballon d’Or has changed format and no longer crowns the best player over a calendar year but over the sports season, henceforth putting in before “the individual performances” and the “decisive and impressive character” of the applicants. Criteria that could hardly apply to Messi after such a complicated exercise in Paris.

Torn reluctantly from his Barcelona cocoon last summer, Messi dragged his spleen on the grounds of Ligue 1 and also failed to sublimate in the Champions League where PSG experienced a disappointment against Real. Madrid in the round of 16. In total, the Argentinian scored only 11 goals with the French champions in 2021-2022, starving statistics for a player of his size.

It’s hard to talk about the end of the cycle or the decline for the native of Rosario (35), especially since his start to the season is quite promising and he will be very motivated to compete in what looks very much like his final World Cup. (November 20-December 18 in Qatar). But his individual productions were largely insufficient in recent months in Paris to justify any indulgence from the magazine France Football, the organizer of the Ballon d’Or which will be awarded on October 17.

Neymar is the other star to bear the brunt of a delicate exercise on a personal level with PSG (13 goals and 8 assists in 28 matches, all competitions combined).

Benzema, huge favorite

The rest of the list of nominees comes as no surprise, notably with the presence of the immense favorite Karim Benzema.

The French striker was the main architect of Real’s 14th title in C1 by finishing top scorer (15) and should in all likelihood become the 5th Habs to be crowned after Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinedine Zidane (1998). In 2021/2022, Benzema scored 44 times in 46 appearances for the Madrid club, also winning the Spanish Championship.

By doubling the bet against Frankfurt (2-0) on Wednesday in the European Supercup, the ex-Lyonnais (34) also positioned himself as the 2nd best artificer in the history of Real with 324 achievements, ahead of the legend Madrid native Raul.

To his club exploits, Benzema also added the Nations League last season, his first trophy with the France team.

The Blues have a total of four candidates for the Ballon d’Or (Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappé, Mike Maignan, Christopher Nkunku) and two for the Yachine award for best goalkeeper (Hugo Lloris, Mike Maignan).

There will also be four French women (Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Wendie Renard) in the running for the women’s Ballon d’Or among the 20 named, including defending champion Alexia Putellas and Norwegian Lyon Ada Hegerberg , the first winner in 2018.


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