Lionel Messi has finally won a trophy with Argentina, helping his country to end their 28-year wait for silverware by claiming the Copa America on Saturday night.
Beyond silencing some of his detractors, who somehow still exist, the win has Messi as the frontrunner to win the Ballon d’Or this year, which would be his seventh.
The Copa America, the European Championship and the World Cup tend to go some way to determining the winner of the Ballon d’Or, so Messi is naturally seen as a favourite this year after winning with the Albiceleste.
In 47 games so far this year, Messi has 38 goals and 14 assists, as well as 26 man of the match awards. He finished LaLiga Santander as Pichichi, and he was the leading goalscorer in the Copa America with four goals and five assists, meaning he was involved in nine of Argentina’s 12 goals this summer.
To add to the Copa America, Messi also won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona.
But who are his rivals?
He’s not likely to be challenge by any of the elite players. Kylian Mbappe didn’t win Ligue 1 or the Champions League, nor did Cristiano Ronaldo win Serie A or conquer Europe. Robert Lewandowski broke scoring records in Germany but was disappointing at Euro 2020.
As far as the outsiders go, Italy’s defensive pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci might stake a claim. As could Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and Mason Mount for their parts in the Champions League win.
Then there are others as well. Both Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri won the Champions League and Euro 2020 but the full-back won’t be a contender, although Jorginho might just be Messi‘s biggest rival.
As it stands, though, it’s hard to see anybody pipping Messi to a seventh Ballon d’Or.