Media in Argentina, Brazil and the world all believe that 36-year-old superstar Lionel Messi is unlikely to win The Best award for the second time in a row.
Brazil’s largest newspaper Universo Online reacted even more strongly to Messi being in the Top 3 of The Best 2023 even though FIFA did not include World Cup 2022 achievements in this period’s awards. The newspaper headline “FIFA breaks the rules, and Messi can win two The Best awards for one World Cup”.Universo Online (UOL) had more than 466 million visits in November 2023, and is the largest newspaper in South America, according to SimilarWeb. In the first sentence of the article, author Rafael Reis asks the question: “What did Messi do in the period from December 19, 2022 to August 20, 2023 to get into the Top 3?”.
“Messi won Ligue 1 during this period, but that is no different from an obligation to PSG,” Reis wrote. “He also won the Leagues Cup with Inter Miami, and shined in several other matches in North America. In other words, there is nothing to justify Messi being in the Top 3 of The Best. You don’t need to be a genius to recognize him. This nomination is based on achievements at the 2022 World Cup.”
FIFA’s The Best is the second most prestigious individual award in the soccer world, after the Golden Ball. Normally awards are given based on calendar year achievements. But FIFA changed the way to calculate achievements by season, from the previous period. The Best 2022 counts achievements in 18 months, up to the end of the 2022 World Cup. And The Best 2023 counts in eight months, and this point makes Reis think that FIFA has torn up the rules.
The author believes that neither Messi nor Kylian Mbappe deserve to be in the Top 3 this term, if not counting their performances at the World Cup. “The Champions League is the most important tournament in the above period, and these two stars cannot take PSG past the 1/8 round,” the newspaper added, and said that Rodri, Vinicius Junior, Victor Osimhen or Lautaro Martinez are still worthy. into the Top 3 more than these two stars.
“A victory for Erling Haaland will be the only result that can somewhat alleviate FIFA’s shame, if they do not want to turn The Best into a joke,” Reis concluded.Argentina’s second largest newspaper La Nacion also believes that Messi is not a good candidate to win The Best award this year, because they think Haaland is more deserving. The 23-year-old striker won the treble with Man City, broke the Premier League scoring record and won the European Golden Shoe.
French, Dutch and Spanish media were also surprised when Messi entered the Top 3. Dutch newspaper Voetbal International said that the Argentine captain was the most surprising name in the Top 3, as he only scored one goal in six matches in MLS. French newspaper Foot Mercato was surprised when midfielder Rodri was not nominated, and commented that Man City fans will argue when they see Messi on the list. Meanwhile, Spanish newspapers like Diario Sport believe Haaland will be honored for the first time.
The Best voting council this time consists of four groups, including coaches, captains of national teams, journalists from member federations and readers voting online. These four groups will have an equivalent weight of 25%, of which the first three groups will have their voting results made public after the award ceremony.
The Best 2023 awards ceremony takes place in London on the evening of January 15, 2024.