Lionel Messi on Wednesday was announced as one of the 30 shortlisted players for the 2023 men’s Ballon d’Or.
Messi has won the prestigious individual award on no less than seven occasions, but this nomination — and his potential eighth win — would be historic for Inter Miami and Major League Soccer as a whole.
Messi, the first nominee from MLS since Beckham!
It has been quite some time since an MLS star has made an appearance on the Ballon d’Or‘s shortlist. In fact, the last time it happened was in 2007, when the man who currently has a slice of Inter Miami‘s ownership pie was an active player.
David Beckham, playing for LA Galaxy at the time, was nominated for the award 16 years ago, just a few months after moving to the United States from Real Madrid. Kaka, an eventual Real Madrid player himself, won the Golden Ball that year.
Per usual, Messi is one of the favorites to win the Ballon d’Or when the winner is revealed later this year. He contributed 16 goals and 16 assists for Paris Saint-Germain last season, helping the French giants repeat as Ligue 1 winners — but in the middle of the season, he guided Argentina to its first FIFA World Cup since 1986, thus winning the only major trophy his cabinet lacked.
Messi has further transformed Inter Miami since his July 21 debut. He scored a game-winning free kick in his first game against Mexican side Cruz Azul, and he notched 10 goals in seven games during the Leagues Cup, helping the Herons win their first-ever trophy.
While Messi is as strong a candidate for the Ballon d’Or as it gets, he faces stern competition in the buildup to the Oct. 30 award ceremony, when the winner will be confirmed.
Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland dominated English soccer in his first Premier League season, when he grabbed 36 goals in 35 games. Haaland scored 52 goals in all competitions and in June helped Man City win the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
Messi’s former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe is also shortlisted for the award again after he scored 29 league goals in 2022/23. From LaLiga, Madrid‘s Vinicius Jr. and Atletico Madrid‘s Antoine Griezmann represent Spain‘s best shot at a podium finisher.