Why Messi Deserves 2021 Ballon Di'or

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Throughout the course of his magical and illustrious career, Lionel Messi has set the standards for every player in world football. Not only has he won almost everything there is to win in the beautiful game, but he has also claimed an abundance of individual awards too. What Messi has done and continues to do on a football pitch always ceases to amaze us. Even at the age of 34, we still find ourselves baffled by what he does. In 2021 especially, he’s been rolling back the years and showing no signs of slowing down. Messi’s form with Barcelona and Argentina in 2021 After a tough start to the 2020/21 season, Messi really hit the ground running at the start of the new year. With new found excitement and motivation, 2021 saw not only an incredible turn in form for Barcelona, but for Messi too. In his first 16 games of the new year, Leo went on an incredible run, scoring or assisting in each of those games. This extraterrestrial turn of form sparked a resurgence in La Liga for Barcelona. Helping the team go on a 19 game unbeaten run. Pushing us right back into contention for the league title, and heavily contributing to our fantastic run in the Copa Del Rey. One of the best examples of Messi’s transformation is his goal scoring record. By the 31st December 2020, La Pulga had scored 7 goals in the league. 5 from open play and 2 penalties. Critics and parts of the media at the time were calling him “finished”. Trying to suggest that it was the beginning of a slow decline. However, If there is one thing we have learnt throughout his glittering career, is that you never ever doubt Lionel Messi. Flash forward to the end of the 2020/21 season and Messi was back on top of the charts again. Finishing the season with 30 goals, the leagues best. As well as the most shots on target(85), the most successful dribbles(147), the most chances created(38) and the best rate for expected goals(23.6). Messi has really rolled back the years so far in 2021, putting in dazzling performances on a consistent basis. Proving to the world that he is not done yet. Copa America – The long wait Winning a senior title with Argentina has always been Messi’s dream. And it is something that had evaded him too many times in his career. Reaching a World Cup final in 2014 and successive Copa America finals, only to lose out in the most devastating of ways. So heartbreaking in fact that it forced him to prematurely retire from international football in 2016. Before reversing that decision a few months later. This time however, things were different. In fact, Copa America 2021 will go down as one of his most impressive and influential of tournament performances. Leo believed in his team. He believed that Argentina could finally go all the way, and win an international trophy. This feeling and motivation transferred to his performances throughout the tournament. An inspired Lionel Messi carried La Albiceleste to the Copa America final, where he finally made his dream come true. Against Brazil, in the Maracana, Messi and Argentina beat the home nation to lift their first title for 26 years. Messi’s first ever international trophy. Messi’s overall performance in the tournament was nothing short of remarkable. His 4 goals and 5 assists pushed his nation all the way to the final. He was then awarded with the trophy for the tournament’s best player. As well as top scorer and playmaker in the Copa. Many people will look at this now and say that the GOAT debate is officially closed. Messi finally won an international trophy, so there is nothing standing in his way now. The end of any possible debate? There are no more excuses for critics to make. Although that is the case, I believe that seeing Messi lift the Copa America is an iconic moment for football. For everything Messi has done in his career, for everything he has brought to the sport. He deserved to win something with his beloved Argentina, and as a football fan it was just a beautiful moment to witness. The world has owed Messi an international title. And there is no other player who deserves it more than him. To top it all off, Messi is now the only player ever in major international tournament history to win the title, player of the tournament , top scorer and top assister all in one go!Messi in 2021 has been an absolute beast. When you consider he is now 34 years old, the way he plays is still reminiscent of his younger years. The greatest player of all time has played 38 games this year. Scoring 33 goals and providing 14 assists. Meaning that he has a total goal contribution rate of 47 G/A, the most out of any other player in Europe. He has won 26 man of the match awards and won the Copa Del Rey with Barcelona. As well as the Copa America and finishing the tournament as top goal scorer, assister and the Copa’s best player. If Messi goes on and wins the Ballon D’or this year, he will become the only player in history to win it four times back to back. The only player to ever win it in three different decades. And the oldest player to win it since 1956, the second oldest of all time. Number seven is inevitable. How The award has lost its credibility in recent years: The Ballon D’or was once an award that was heavily valued in the world of football. However over recent years, it has lost a lot of its credibility. Especially when you consider the criteria used to judge who should win it. Put simply, the Ballon D’or is an award to recognize the best player in the world for that year. When you look at it from a statistical and performance point of view, Messi leads all categories for 2021. Thus, he should be the obvious favorite for the Ballon D’or. As we all know ,Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated this award for over the last decade. And I think a lot of people have wanted to break that run, thus the criteria for it now is very restricted. If you haven’t won the Champions League, you can’t win the Ballon D’or. It’s got to a point where you’re even hearing names pop up like Jorginho as a favourite. Purely because his teams won the euros and the Champions League. That has been the problem, it is not an award based on a collective performance. It is an award simply for the best player in that year. We need to bring it back to what it actually means, and award it to the man who is the best in 2021. Like mentioned before, statistically and performance wise, that man is Lionel Messi. If any other player was to have a season like Messi, you wouldn’t hear the end of it. And it would be a guaranteed Ballon D’or. -Ryan Edwards.

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