Messi recently won The Best 2023 Men’s Player award from FIFA, which I think he does not deserve and I’ll explain why.
It is that time of the year when we argue about awards in football again. This time it is The FIFA Best Awards, where Lionel Messi retained his crown as the FIFA Best Men’s Player of 2023. Again, I do not think he deserves this one.
In the same way, I do not think he was the best player in 2022, but that is another argument entirely. Here are some of the reasons why Messi does not deserve the 2023 FIFA Men’s Best award.
3 Reasons Why Messi Does Not Deserve The FIFA Best 2023 Award
1. There were better performers in 2023 than Lionel Messi
My first reason why Messi doesn’t deserve the FIFA Best Men’s Player of 2023 award is simple. There were better performers in 2023 than Lionel Messi.
The award looks at achievements during the period from 19, December 2023 to 20th of August 2023. And within this time frame, we saw Paris Saint Germaine and Messi, struggle and stumble to a Ligue 1 title. PSG also went out in the Round of 16 to Bayern without scoring a single goal in both legs.
In that time, Erling Haaland and Manchester City won the treble. Haaland also emerged as the top goal scorer in the Champions League and the Premier League in his debut season for the English giants. His goal-scoring exploits alone trump the performances of Messi within the set time frame, and then we add the trophies, it is almost inexplicable how Messi gets this award ahead of Haaland.
Some of Haaland’s detractors might say – “well, he is just a goal scorer”. This is an argument I find ridiculous when you remember that finding the back of the net is the most significant action in football. But let us humour this argument for a bit.
Rodri for Manchester is another befitting candidate ahead of Messi. He was a big part of the UCL winning campaign for Man City and scored the winning goal in the final. Another argument for Rodri was his UEFA Nations League win with Spain, where he emerged as the tournament’s best player.
Other viable candidates include Victor Osimehn who was the highest goal scorer in the Serie A as Napoli won their first league title in 30 years. And also got as far as the quarter finals in the UCL with his team struggling in his absence.
These players were all deserving winners and they have been denied.
2. Invalid World Cup Reward
There’s the argument about the World Cup, but the World Cup ended on December 18, 2022. The time frame for the award starts December 19, 2022. So, his performances there don’t count. His World Cup win was already rewarded when he won the Ballon d’Or 2022 award. It fell within the right time frame and he deservedly won it.
Plus, that was a World Cup in 2022. Why are we rewarding a World Cup performance 2 years later? Since then, all Messi has had are some good performances in the MLS. Performances that have since dissipated after the first two months of his move over there.
FIFA ignored the winners of the Champions League, Serie A, EPL, La Liga, and so forth in favour of a World Cup win outside the set period. Speaking of FIFA, my next reason why Messi doesn’t deserve this award is centred around them.
3. Wrong Voting Criteria
The FIFA Best Awards are voted for by journalists, captains of national teams, coaches, and fans. This is a flawed method to determine the best player in the world for many reasons.
For one, there are no clear criteria that determine the candidate. All we have is a time frame. Someone with voting rights could have voted for Anthony of Manchester United and it would have been a valid vote.
The voting process favours Messi, with the footballing community still in the lavender haze of his World Cup win.
However, that shouldn’t make him a frontrunner for the award, let alone come out as the winner. This is a reflection of the lack of structural integrity within FIFA as an organization.
Read Also: How Much Does The World Cup Cost?
Whilst we can agree that Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer of this generation, we can also say with certainty that he wasn’t the best player in 2023. And by extension, undeserving of the FIFA Best Men’s Player for the year 2023.
How do we explain to future generations that Erling Haaland missed out on this award despite his performances?
Regardless, we congratulate him on his win. And we congratulate the runners up Haaland and Mbappe. There will be many podium finishes for them in the near future, but it still doesn’t excuse this sacrilege.