Manchester City's Erling Haaland is reportedly unhappy with Pep Guardiola after the latter showered Lionel Messi with praise before the 2023 Ballon d'Or ceremony.
Messi won his record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or award at the Theatre du Chatelet on 30 October, finishing ahead of runner-up Erling Haaland. A few days ahead of the ceremony, Guardiola was asked to give his verdict on who should win the award.
The Spanish tactician replied (h/t FourFourTwo):
"Always I said the Ballon d'Or should be in two sections. One for Messi, then after [that] another one so Haaland should win, yes. We won the treble, he scored a million goals. The worst season for Messi is the best for the rest of the players."
These comments apparently rubbed Haaland the wrong way. Addressing the situation involving the Manchester City striker, journalist Eduardo Inda said on El Chiringuito de Jugones (h/t El Nacional):
"They tell me from the player's environment that there is some friction with Guardiola since before the Ballon d'Or gala. Pep praised Messi in a grandiose way, saying that Leo's worst season coincided with Haaland's best.
"He praised the two, but he put in that phase and Haaland has not been very happy. There is a certain distance with the coach. The relationship is not at a good time. What you have to say is that the Ballon d'Or is it must be taken by your star and not Leo Messi."
Messi, now 36, won his first Ballon d'Or as a 22-year-old in 2009, when he was playing under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona.
What Lionel Messi said about Manchester City's Erling Haaland after Ballon d'Or win
Lionel Messi sent a direct message to Erling Haaland after winning the 2023 Ballon d'Or award, saying that the Norwegian superstar will win the trophy in the future.
After being called up on the stage, the Inter Miami superstar said, via the Evening Standard:
"Erling deserved it very much too, he has won Premier League, Champions League while being the top scorer of everything. This award could have been yours today too. “I’m sure in the next years you will win it."
Last season was by far the best in Haaland's career so far. He plundered 52 goals in 53 games across competitions, helping Manchester City win the treble. The 23-year-old also broke the record for most goals in a Premier League season (36 goals in 35 games) and won the UEFA Champions League Golden Boot with 12 goals.
Many believe the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina gave Messi the decisive edge against his Norwegian counterpart. The former Barcelona superstar won the Golden Ball in Qatar after scoring seven times in as many games for La Albiceleste.