Messi’s 8th Balon D’Or by Dan Smith
We have a habit in the UK of wanting someone to fall once they hit a certain height. That’s why Lionel Messi hasn’t by all been given credit for his 8th Ballon D’ Or.
Some feel it was a sentimental choice by the organisers, a final chance to give the Argentine the accolade.
Others feel it was politics at work, sponsors and advertiser’s preferring the most iconic player of all time being the face of their event.
The complaint some have Is that winning Ligue One with PSG can’t be compared to what Haaland did domestically, the striker lifting a treble in his first season in England.
The consensus being that a body of work shouldn’t be judged purely on one-month long tournament.
Yet we are not talking about any competition. We are referring to a little matter called. …. the World Cup!
You know the event that every 4 years Messi was judged on for not taking home?
No matter how many Championships, Champions Leagues or individual honours, the 36 year was in danger of being defined by his inability to match watch Maradona did.
We can’t have it both ways.
We can’t judge a player for the one item missing on his CV then downplay the achievement when it becomes a reality.
Most of the time the award is judged on your form in Europe or on the international stage.
So, by that criteria why should the Champions League be deemed superior to the World Cup, especially given the fact that Messi has been successful in UEFA’s premier competition multiple time?
For bonus points, Messi also was more prolific in the knockout stages then Haaland was.
The change of rules means a talent is judged for the whole 2022/23 campaign and not simply the calendar year.
Despite perceptions towards him in France, Messi still managed over 20 goals and 20 assists. Those are stats that most would be proud of.
As most would be satisfied with his record in America of 11 goals in 14 matches, already gaining silverware in the MLS.
So, his numbers at his last two clubs shouldn’t be dismissed.
Yet it’s what he did in Qatar that will last forever. Not just reaching the promise the land but the manner of how he did.
Sandwiched between the English programme what stood out was his strong mind set.
In a title race which proved mentally too much for Arsenal to handle, if any fanbase couldn’t take for granted the character it took to deal with expectations, it’s Gooners.
In sport, skill gets you so far. What separates the good from the best is your mind.
That’s why November and December 2022 will be one of my most memorable moments in football.
The Argentine skipper didn’t need to get his hands on that gold prize to prove anything to anyone.
Yet how he carried that weight of expectation with a smile on his face was inspirational.
Where the Gunners were crippled by a fear of failure, Messi not just faced the anxiety but did so with a smile on his face.
From the end of group stage, every last World Cup fixture was potentially his farewell.
Every goal, the prospect of being his final one.
At times his peers struggled but their captain was like a conductor, watching from deep and pulling the strings when needed.
The narrative was could one of the greatest to ever live, triumph in the one comp that alluded him?
It was much of a happy ever after ending, too much of a Fairytale, like Shakespeare had written it.
It’s too perfect. The world doesn’t work like that.
For the ending alone …. Messi deserves as much recognition as possible.
On behalf of the JustArsenal family, congratulations to Messi
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