Barcelona star Robert Lewandowski is certain that Lionel Messi will win an eighth Ballon d'Or award next year for his 2022 FIFA World Cup triumph with Argentina.
The Albiceleste beat France 4-2 on penalties to become champions for the third time in history as Messi finally got his hands on the gold trophy.
He was central to their campaign with seven goals, including two in the finals, and three assists, while also picking up the Golden Ball for the best player in the tournament.
Lewandowski, whose Poland side finished second to Messi and co. after losing 2-0 in the group stages, felt the Argentine skipper was the favorite to win the Ballon d'Or yet again.
Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, he said (via Barca Universal):
“Of course. There is maybe one more player playing for the same club but there is only one World Cup that decides who is going to win it this season and Leo is now in the top position for sure because of what he has achieved which means everything to him. Now he can enjoy it."
In the months leading up to the World Cup, Lionel Messi had been on a fine run of form with PSG too, scoring 12 goals and making 14 assists in 19 matches in the 2022-23 season.
If he's able to keep up this form in the second half of their campaign, there's no stopping Messi from winning a record-extending eighth Golden Ball, as the prize hereafter will be given out to the best player during the full club season, instead of the calendar year timeframe which was followed until now.
Lionel Messi's Ballon d'Or prospects will face challenge from Kylian Mbappe
Lionel Messi has firmly entered the Ballon d'Or race after his epic FIFA World Cup triumph but he could still face a challenge for the prize from his PSG teammate, Kylian Mbappe.
Widely touted as a future Ballon d'Or winner, the 24-year-old was on fire for France at the Qatar showpiece, scoring eight goals, including a sensational hat-trick in the finals against Argentina to win the Golden Boot ahead of Messi.
On the club front, Mbappe has scored 19 times from 20 matches to play a leading role in their Ligue 1 title charge while also staking an early claim at yet another domestic Golden Boot.
The teammates could be battling it out for the Ballon d'Or next year.