28-year-old Argentine professional Attacker, Lionel Andrés “Leo” Messi, is ready to beat off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar to add another Golden Ball to his big collection. The prolific goalscorer who also holds the Guinness World Records titles for most goals scored in La Liga (295), a La Liga season (50), a calendar year (91), a Champions League match (five), and most Champions League seasons (five), has over the years proven himself to be a young Lion of the jungle field.
Meanwhile, Portuguese attacker, Ronaldo, in his winning speech in Switzerland a year ago, said he was keen to catch Messi and also go down as the finest footballer in the history of the game. However, 2015 was more of Messi’s year than Ronaldo’s, who was watching on as his Real Madrid rival uttered those words that didn’t hold much water after all.
There has been serious speculations that Lionel Messi will win the Ballon d’Or for a fifth time this year. Although he had missed out on the honour to Cristiano Ronaldo in the last two years, he is now preparing to reclaim his prize for the better. The winning spot of the Ballon d’0r has been shuttled between Messi and Ronaldo in the past seven years: Messi: 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012; Cristiano: 2008, 2013 and 2014.
Messi led Barca to an unprecedented second treble in 2015, having already achieved the feat with the Catalan club in 2008-09. He remains the main man, popping up with vital goals when it matters most, such as the two stunning strikes in the Champions League semi-final first leg at home to Bayern Munich and another in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou.
The latter was so special that it made certain Messi was nominated for the Puskas prize on Monday as well – and he is the big favourite to win the award for the year’s greatest goal. That, however, is likely to be just the appetizer for the main dish coming up later on: His fifth Ballon d’Or.
All we can do is enjoy what Messi does because what he is doing is not normal,” the Argentine’s former Barca team-mate Thierry Henry said last week. “I think it would be madness if he does not win the Ballon d’Or. He deserves it because the team won another treble.”
Henry played with Messi in the 2008-09 side and added: “We had incredible players in that team and whenever you did not know what to do, you always looked for Messi.”
The same can be said of today’s team, but since struggling with injuries and their after effects in 2013 and 2014, the Rosario-born forward not only returned to his brilliant best in 2015 but became an even more complete player too, dropping deeper to assume control and orchestrate in midfield as well as scoring and assisting his team-mates.
You never know what might end up happening, but it would be a surprise and a huge injustice if Messi was not to win the Ballon d’Or,” said the South American’s former club captain Carles Puyol on the eve of the gala. He added:
“It will be hard for any other player in the future to win five Ballons d’Or, and Messi is not going to retire tomorrow so even if he wins (his fifth title) on Monday he can even add more to his name.”
Before Messi, no player had won more than three Ballon d’Or titles – a feat achieved by Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten, and subsequently Ronaldo as well. Now Messi is on the verge of getting number five even before he has clocked 30 years of age.