Manchester City forward Erling Haaland has been ruled out of the Ballon d’Or race by his club teammate. Haaland has emerged as one of the leading contenders for the prize after an incredibly successful season. On the other hand, Lionel Messi has set his sights on winning a record-extending eight Ballon d’Or. However, Haaland’s new City teammate Josko Gvardiol has kept Messi ahead of Haaland in the pecking order.
During an interview, Josko Gvardiol said, “For me, he’s the best player I’ve had to defend against so far. I think he deserves it [Ballon D’or] surely.” The City defender further explained what it was playing against Messi. Gvardiol faced Messi at the club level two years ago in the Champions League when he was playing for RB Leipzig.
Gvardiol 🗣️ : “It was harder to defend against him [Messi] than it was in our game against Paris. It’s completely different – he has a completely different profile in the club than in the national team.
“Why? I think he was very motivated, it was his last chance to get… pic.twitter.com/j5z1LEKsQb
— Tommy 🎩 (@Shelby_Messi) September 13, 2023
He also came up against the Inter Miami star in the World Cup last year when Croatia faced Argentina in the semifinals. Reflecting on the two matches, Guardiola admitted that he had a tougher time against Messi whilst playing in the World Cup 2022.
The 21-year-old defender was humbled by Messi in the build-up to Argentina’s third goal against Croatia in the semifinal. Josko Gvardiol, who signed for Manchester City this season for a sum of around $96 million, preferred to side with Messi than Haaland. However, the Norwegian star is yet to respond to Gvardiol’s comments.
Erling Haaland’s coach backs Lionel Messi for Ballon d’Or
Meanwhile, Erling Haaland‘s national team head coach Stale Solbakken has also backed Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or. Speaking to the Norwegian news outlet VG, Solbakken revealed that he feels that the Argentine skipper would lift the prize later in October this year. He said, “If you ask me who I think will win, I will say Messi will win it thanks to his World Cup triumph. It still has an impact.“
— Pulse Sports Nigeria (@PulseSportsNG) September 11, 2023
Erling Haaland, however, won’t be perturbed with his coach or teammate’s views. The 23-year-old star has backed himself to challenge Messi for the award. He is confident about having a chance to lift the Ballon d’Or while being pitted against Messi. Moreover, after winning the UEFA Men’s POTY, Haaland has a strong chance of winning soccer’s ultimate individual prize.
Lionel Messi on winning an 8th Ballon d’Or trophy: 🗣️ “I was lucky to have achieved everything in my career and after the World Cup, I’m thinking about that award much less. If it arrives, good, and if not, nothing happens. I was lucky to achieve all my goals in my career.” pic.twitter.com/byaYIs01eT
— GiveMeSport (@GiveMeSport) August 18, 2023
On the other, Lionel Messi isn’t too worried about the result of the Ballon d’Or. After winning a record seven Ballon d’Or trophies, the 36-year-old star isn’t chasing the prize anymore. Messi has previously admitted that he’s content with his career after lifting the World Cup in Qatar last year. However, soccer fans will have to wait till October 31 to know the winner of the prize.