Lionel Messi beat Robert Lewandowski to the 2021 Ballon d'Or award last night. That has generated mixed reactions from the football world. While some believe it was a well-deserved triumph for the Argentine, others feel the accolade should've gone to the Polish forward instead.
Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus belongs to the second category. The former Germany midfielder has said that Lewandowski has been in a class of his own over the last two years. So he should have been awarded the 2021 Ballon d'Or award.
"Honestly, I don't understand anymore," the 60-year-old, who made over 400 appearances for Bayern Munich, was quoted as saying.
"With all due respect to Messi and the other great named players, none deserved it as much as Lewandowski. He's been unmatched for the past two years. But even if you only take into account 2021, he was better than the rest", continued Matthaus.
The former player noted that Lewandowski missed the accolade despite scoring more goals than anybody else this year.
The Pole (41) had also broken the late Gerd Muller's five-decade-old record of most goals (40) in a Bundesliga campaign last season. That helped Bayern Munich win a record-extending ninth Bundesliga title. Matthaus said in this regard:
"He broke Gerd Muller's record, again tops the list of top scorers in all competitions and has overtaken everyone nationally and internationally this year as well."
It goes without saying that Lionel Messi's success with Argentina in the Copa America played a huge role in his Ballon d'Or triumph this year. However, Matthaus believes that shouldn't have been enough to give him the award instead of Robert Lewandowski.
The Bayern Munich legend said that the likes of Karim Benzema, Jorginho, Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo had incredible years. But none came close to Lewandowski, including Messi. In fact, the Argentine has had a subdued start to his PSG career, scoring four goals in 11 games across competitions.
He said: "Messi may have won the Copa America with Argentina, but he's completely pale in Paris.
About Benzema and Salah, he said:
"Benzema also played a great year, but left empty-handed with Real. Salah has been great in recent months, but experienced a long period of drought at the start of the year.
Matthaus said that Jorginho won two big titles, but he and Ronaldo were not as consistent as Lewandowski. That makes it difficult to explain Lewandowski's Ballon d'Or snub. He added:
"Jorginho has, of course, won two very big titles with Chelsea and Italy, but is nowhere near as remarkable as the Bayern striker and practically week after week. And Ronaldo was not as consistent and extraordinary as Lewandowski. I don't understand why he didn't win."
Lionel Messi makes history with seventh Ballon d'Or triumph
Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or award once again following his spectacular year with club and country. By doing so, he became the first player in history to win the coveted award on seven occasions.
Next to him comes his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo with five Ballon d'Or awards to his name. It is unlikely the Portuguese will ever match the PSG maestro's tally. Ronaldo has now gone four years without claiming the accolade, with his last triumph coming in 2017.