Lionel Messi of Argentina kissed the World Cup trophy

9 football icons who have backed Lionel Messi to win the 2023 Ballon d’Or: Henry, Ronaldo…

Lionel Messi is expected to win his eighth Ballon d’Or award after a historic 2022-23 campaign and plenty of football icons think the Argentine genius is deserving of the prize.

The 36-year-old enjoyed his crowning moment last year as he led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar. He was also excellent at club level as he played a key role in PSG winning Ligue 1 and the Trophee des Champions.

We’ve gathered the thoughts of nine football icons who have backed Messi to win the prestigious award in 2023.

Pep Guardiola

“The Ballon d’Or? I have great affection for both Messi and Haaland,” Guardiola told reporters. “If Messi wins, it will be a fair win because of the World Cup, and if Haaland wins, it will be fair to the season he had. They should give two awards this year, they both deserve to win.

“Always I said the Ballon d’Or should be in two sections; one for Lionel Messi, then after another one so Haaland should win, yes. We won the treble, he scored a million goals.

“The worst season for Messi is the best for the rest of the players. Both deserve it. Realistically I want Haaland to have it cause he helped us achieve what we achieved, I would love it. But Messi won the World Cup.”

Thierry Henry

“A lot of people can debate that but, for me, if you win the World Cup and the way he did it,” Henry told CBS Sports. “We can talk about what happened in the final.

“As a Frenchman, I was obviously a little disappointed with how it all finished, but you can’t say it isn’t deserved if he wins. Maybe a lot of people can claim, the Man City players, Haaland and some can also say; ‘Why not me?’

“But you can’t say it’s not right if he wins it. You have the history at times where I’m thinking about Lewandowski, they decided to say there will not be any Ballon d’Or, but there was football. Why was the guy not allowed to win his golden ball? Or the Ballon d’Or I should say.”

When asked by fellow pundit Jamie Carragher who deserves to win the award, Henry Henry replied: “For me? Messi. Bye. Over.”


“The Ballon d’Or should go to him [Lionel Messi], without a doubt,” the Brazil legend explained. “What Messi did in the World Cup was special. It reminded me of the campaigns of Pele and Maradona.”

Michael Owen

“I think this year, you could certainly say there’ve been two outstanding candidates in my opinion: Erling Haaland scored 52 goals in 53 and has won a treble – that’s a pretty impressive year’s work for him,” Owen told AS USA.

“But I don’t think he’s going to win, I think he’s going to be a gallant second. Because Messi has obviously had the year that he probably dreamt of all his career.

“He’s probably had better years in terms of performances, but to win a World Cup and be the star of the show, it almost rounds off the perfect career, doesn’t it? So I’d be surprised if he didn’t win.”

Eden Hazard

“It wouldn’t be logical to not give the Ballon d’Or to the best player in history in the year that he won the World Cup,” Hazard told Telefoot.

Olivier Giroud

“Who won the World Cup? That’s how it often works,” Giroud told reporters. “On top of that, he played an important role in the World Cup so I think the Ballon d’Or will be given to Lionel Messi.”

Ronald Araujo

“I hope Messi can win the Ballon d’Or,” the Barcelona defender told Marcelo Bechler. “He is the best player in the world and always will be. I always say that and we can all see the talent he has. He is amazing.”


“I think a certain Leo Messi is going to take it. Haaland is also a very large figure and has merits,” the City star said in an interview with COPE.

“I know it’s an individual award with a lot of marketing. Among the monsters I’m with, of course, I lacked marketing, like Xavi and Iniesta. I worry about the things I can control, which is the collective awards.”

Joe Cole

“What Messi done at the World Cup and it looks like FIFA, because of the change of the dates, are putting that in this section,” Cole explained on TNT Sports.

“I just think it was the cherry on the cake for probably the outstanding football career we’ve seen. I think it put to bed the Ronaldo-Messi argument.”

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player to make the Ballon d’Or podium in Messi’s seven wins?