“Should go to him, without a doubt” – Ronaldo Nazario chooses 2023 Ballon d'Or winner amid Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland battle

Ronaldo Nazario chooses 2023 Ballon d
Ronaldo Nazario chooses 2023 Ballon d'Or winner amid Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland battle

In the race for the 2023 Ballon d'Or, Brazil legend Ronaldo Nazario has picked sides between Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland.

Messi arguably heads the list of favorites for this year's accolade, but it is hotly contested by players like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. With the award-winner set to be revealed on October 30, Ronaldo Nazario unveiled his choice, championing Messi as the deserving winner.

Nazario heaped accolades on the Argentine maestro for his display at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, noting that Messi's exploits deserved the Ballon d'Or (via TNT Sports):

"The Ballon d'Or should go to him [Lionel Messi], without a doubt. What Messi did in the World Cup was special. It reminded me of the campaigns of Pelé and Maradona."

When Lionel Messi's year is put into perspective, he makes a compelling case for the award. Not only did he hoist the World Cup trophy, but he also clinched the French Super Cup and Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain. He finished last season with 21 goals and 20 assists in 41 games across competitions for the French giants.

However, the Argentine legend will face competition. Erling Haaland's eye-watering tally of 52 goals in 53 games across all competitions last term propelled Manchester City to a historic treble.

Pep Guardiola discusses Erling Haaland, Lionel Messi, and the Ballon d'Or race

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has weighed in on the subject of the Ballon d'Or, half-jokingly advocating for two separate categories. In his pre-match press conference leading up to City's Premier League clash with Brighton & Hove Albion on 21 October, the former Barcelona manager remarked (via Eurosport):

“I always said that the Ballon d'Or had to be two sections: one for Messi and one for the others. But of course, Messi, if you tell me the worst season of Messi it is the best for the rest of them. Both deserve it.
"Egotistically I would say I want Erling because he helped us to achieve what we achieved. I would love it but I won't tell you it's unfair if Leo wins."

Erling Haaland has carried his impressive form into the 2023-24 season, registering nine goals and two assists in 13 matches. Messi has also hit the ground running at Inter Miami since joining them this summer, scoring 11 times and providing five assists in his opening 14 appearances.

Lionel Messi also bagged an impressive seven goals while guiding Argentina to the 2022 FIFA World Cup victory. Two of those goals came in the final against France, and he also dispatched his spot-kick in the shootout.

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Edited by Aniket Rai
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