The FIFA Player of the Year award is one of the most prestigious honors in the world of football, eagerly awaited by players and fans alike. It recognizes the exceptional talents and contributions of footballers from around the globe. In recent times, the award has stirred up controversy, particularly when Lionel Messi secured the 2022-23 FIFA Player of the Year title. Many believed that Erling Haaland was the more deserving candidate. In this blog, we’ll delve into the controversy surrounding Messi’s award, analyze the performances of both Messi and Haaland, and discuss the factors that led to this debate.
Lionel Messi: A Legend in His Own Right
Lionel Messi, often hailed as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has an illustrious career that spans over two decades. Having spent the majority of his career at Barcelona before moving to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Messi has consistently delivered spectacular performances. His incredible dribbling skills, goal-scoring prowess, vision, and ability to create opportunities for his teammates have made him an iconic figure in the sport.
In 2021, Messi secured the FIFA Player of the Year award, which marked his seventh time winning the title. This achievement itself is an indicator of his incredible consistency and talent. While his move to PSG in August 2021 added a new chapter to his career, it was the 2021 award that generated little debate, as he had a fantastic season with Barcelona.
Erling Haaland: The Rising Star
Erling Haaland, on the other hand, is a young, dynamic striker who has been rapidly rising to stardom. His performances at Borussia Dortmund and, later, at Manchester City have catapulted him into the global spotlight. Haaland is renowned for his blistering pace, remarkable physicality, and an innate goal-scoring instinct. He has consistently delivered impressive numbers, both in terms of goals and assists.
The Controversy Unfolds
The controversy surrounding Messi’s 2023 FIFA Player of the Year award emerged due to the differing performances of Messi and Haaland in the 2021-2022 season. While Messi had a great season with Barcelona, leading them to win the Copa del Rey, Haaland’s outstanding goal-scoring record with Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City drew immense attention.
Same is the scene this year as Halaand won treble with Manchester City bagging 52 Goals. But somehow Messi won it because Argentina won the World Cup. The credibility of this award is lost and if Halaand didn’t get it this year we don’t know what he will has to do to earn it. It’s a day light robbery to award Messi the award.
The Numbers Game
To understand the controversy better, let’s look at the statistics. In the 2021-2022 season, Messi played a crucial role in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey victory and scored 30 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions. His performance was commendable, and he demonstrated his enduring class.
On the other hand, Erling Haaland had a phenomenal season. He netted 38 goals in 43 appearances for Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City. Notably, his performance with Manchester City was particularly stunning, as he quickly adapted to the Premier League and continued to score goals at an impressive rate.
A Deeper Look
While the statistics might suggest that Haaland had a slightly better goal-scoring season, there’s more to consider. Messi’s influence on the game extends beyond goals. His ability to create chances, assist teammates, and influence the overall dynamics of the match is often immeasurable. His presence alone draws defenders, creating space for his teammates.
Haaland, though an incredible goal-scorer, does not have the same level of influence on the overall game. He excels in the penalty area and is a clinical finisher, but his contribution to build-up play and creating opportunities for others is not at the level of Messi. This difference in playing styles highlights the diversity in football and makes the comparison a matter of personal preference.
Team performance is another crucial aspect to consider. Barcelona had a relatively underwhelming season, finishing third in La Liga. While Messi’s individual brilliance shone, the team’s overall performance was not at the level expected from the Catalan giants. On the other hand, Haaland’s teams had successful seasons. Borussia Dortmund finished third in the Bundesliga, and Manchester City secured the Premier League title/FA Cup and Champions League.
The criteria for the FIFA Player of the Year award do not explicitly mention team performance, but it often plays a role in the voters’ decisions. A player who has a significant impact on their team’s success is more likely to receive votes from the national team captains, national team coaches, and journalists who comprise the voting panel.
The Subjective Nature of Awards
It’s essential to acknowledge that awards like the FIFA Player of the Year are subjective. Different individuals, with their unique preferences and biases, might have diverse opinions on what constitutes the “best” player. Some might prioritize individual statistics like goals and assists, while others might consider a player’s overall influence on the game and their team’s success.
Moreover, football is a dynamic sport, and players’ form can fluctuate from season to season. Messi, a footballing legend, is widely respected, and his legacy plays a role in the recognition he receives. On the other hand, Haaland, while immensely talented, is still building his reputation and might need a few more seasons of consistent brilliance to claim such an award.
The controversy surrounding Lionel Messi winning the FIFA Player of the Year award over Erling Haaland in 2022 reflects the subjective nature of football awards. While Haaland’s goal-scoring prowess and impact on his team’s performance were remarkable, Messi’s enduring excellence and ability to influence every aspect of the game cannot be overlooked.
In the end, the FIFA Player of the Year award is an acknowledgment of the best player in the world at a specific moment in time, and it can be influenced by a multitude of factors. The debate surrounding Messi’s win is a testament to the passion and diversity of opinions within the football community. Both Messi and Haaland are exceptional players in their own right, and they have undoubtedly left a significant mark on the world of football.