Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has been told to “never go back to another” Ballon d’Or ceremony if Lionel Messi wins this year’s award.
Haaland joined the Cityzens from Borussia Dortmund last summer and had a historic debut campaign in the Premier League.
The Norwegian international scored a remarkable 52 goals in 53 appearances across all competitions as City won the Treble (Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup).
On Wednesday, he was revealed as one of the nominees for the 2023 Ballon d’Or, although everyone knew he would be.
Despite Haaland’s incredible numbers and success at the Etihad, Lionel Messi is the strong favourite to win the award.
Messi won the World Cup with Argentina but actually had a relatively average club season by his impeccable standards.
32 goal contributions in as many Ligue 1 games was a good return, but Paris Saint-Germain were completely dysfunctional on their way to winning another league title.
The Parisiens also flopped in the Champions League once again, losing in the last 16 of the competition to Bayern Munich.
Undermining Messi’s 20 goals and 20 assists for PSG is perhaps an attempt to justify Craig Burley’s opinion that Haaland should be taking home the award, but here we are.
Speaking on ESPN, Burley said Haaland deserves to win the Ballon d’Or over seven-time winner Messi and if he does not get his hand on that beautiful golden trophy he should boycott the awards ceremony going forward.
“If Erling Haaland doesn’t win this, close the shop,” he said.
“Lionel Messi won the World Cup and it’s a great achievement, but it’s a four-week period. His general league form was not the best. PSG were terrible.
“Erling Haaland? Over 50 goals, a Premier League title, the FA Cup, and the Champions League. Erling Haaland should win this award. I know that a lot of people out there can’t get off the Messi bandwagon but look at the bigger picture.
“There’s going to be a lot of muppet journos voting for Messi. The big picture here is that Erling Haaland achieved everything over a long period of time.
“This award, like a few awards, drives me nuts but he’s the one that deserves it but I think out there it will be full of sentimental claptrap – Messi won the World Cup, Messi’s this and Messi’s that, and they will just hand him another one.
“And if I was Erling Haaland, I would never go back to another Ballon d’Or in my life, same as Robert Lewandowski.”