Footballers were the real stars of 2013. Now, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will cap things off by presenting the Ballon d'Or to the best football player in the world during the last 365 days on Monday the 13th of January in the Swiss city of Zurich.
Lionel Messi clocked up such impressive numbers that he is among the three candidates to receive the prestigious trophy. Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Ribéry are the other two candidates that make up this triad of stars.
The Argentine star’s stats speak for themselves: 45 goals in 46 games. Messi practically averaged a goal a game (0.98), which makes him one of the most deadly finishers in the world. Both Barcelona and the Argentine national team benefit from the 26-year-old’s incredible talent, and despite seeing out 2013 with an injury, he continues to try and outdo himself season after season.
Speed, trickery and goals, lots of goals. These are the characteristics of a striker who needs no introduction. The blaugrana hero is not just a technically gifted player, but also an intelligent one. His versatility allows him to start moves from anywhere on the pitch, as well as set up his teammates (13 assists), making him one of the most resourceful and hardest to stop forwards in the world. He also managed to pull off 243 shots.
The South American was one of the main reasons Tito Vilanova’s Barcelona side finished the last Liga BBVA campaign as champions as he was the top scorer in the league for a third consecutive season. As well as that, he only went five games out of 32 without finding the back of the net. This magnificent achievement, which resulted in his team winning a title in 2013, is his strongest card ahead of Monday’s election.
Messi’s star shines equally as bright when playing for his country. The Argentine no. 10 has taken a giant step in terms of his performances with the national team, where before he failed to live up to the weight of expectation that followed from being Barcelona’s main man. In 2013, the Rosario born striker proved himself to be a true leader by coming second in the list of top goal scorers during the South American qualification campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, a tournament which he will feature in for the third time in his career.
Should he win the award, Messi would be writing football history as the first player to receive five Ballon d'Ors, and all of them coming in consecutive fashion. The blaugrana star would add it to the accolades he picked up in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as the FIFA World Player award he picked up in 2009 and the three Golden Boots he won in 2010, 2012 and 2013. A trophy that would add further to the Lionel Messi legend.
De conseguir este valorado galardón, Messi escribiría una nueva página en la historia del fútbol, puesto que se convertiría en el primer futbolista en lograr cinco Ballon d'Or, todos ellos de manera consecutiva. El astro azulgrana lo añadiría así a los cuatro que ya consiguió en 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, más el FIFA World Player recibido en 2009 y las tres Botas de Oro que ganó en 2010, 2012, 2013. Un trofeo que engrandecería más si cabe la figura de Lionel Messi.