Gary Lineker has tipped Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) attacker Lionel Messi to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or ahead of Robert Lewandowski, Jorginho, Cristiano Ronaldo and others. The Englishman has sung Messi's praises a handful of times over the years and was at it once again ahead of the announcement of the Ballon d'Or nominees on 8th October.
Speaking to Marca (quotes via Daily Mail), Lineker said he couldn't see anyone else winning the Ballon d'Or, particularly due to Messi's role in Argentina's historic Copa America triumph.
"It will be difficult to overcome Messi. He had a great first part of the season and then he won the Copa América with Argentina."
The PSG man was the star of the show for Lionel Scaloni's side, as he got his hands on his first-ever major trophy for his national team. In seven games, Messi recorded a staggering tally of four goals and five assists, as he topped the charts for both those stats.
Lineker singles out PSG new-man Messi for special praise after making Ballon d'Or claim
After declaring that Messi should get his hands on the Ballon d'Or, Lineker spoke in detail about another Argentine great who holds a special place in his heart - the late Diego Maradona.
"They are two Argentines, it is true, but the reason [I love them] is easy: I love football and what they gave to the game, nobody has given it to them."
"Without comparing them, both did things that the rest of us mortals cannot even imagine. They gave us happiness. There were other greats, like the two Ronaldos, for example, but I consider them more as tremendous scorers."
"Diego and Leo did, and do, in each game, two or three things that neither I nor almost anyone did in an entire career. They play another sport."
"I also love Ronaldo. I respect him very much, he is a giant too, but my honest football opinion is that there is no comparison as to who is the best. Because of the things that Leo does."
After winning the Copa America with Argentina and the Copa del Rey with Barcelona, Messi is widely tipped to be the frontrunner for the Ballon d'Or. Will the PSG man get his hands on the prized accolade for the seventh time in his career? At this point, it's anyone's best guess.