The Argentine finally won a major international title – the only thing that had been missing from his distinguished CV.
Lionel Messi is the favorite to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or, insists Ronald Koeman.
2020-21 wasn’t a success on the La Liga or Champions League front for FC Barcelona, but the season was quite productive on an individual level for Messi.
The mercurial forward had a mouth-watering 48 goal contributions in just 41 games across the two competitions. 30 of his goals came in La Liga for which he won the Pichichi award for finishing as the league’s top-scorer for a record eighth time.
He was a driving force behind Argentina’s Copa America triumph, evident from the fact that the 34-year-old scooped up the Player of Tournament recognition as well as the Golden Ball prize.
Messi has already won the Ballon d’Or six times, and Koeman is backing the player to pick up the coveted prize for a record-extending seventh time.
“He is vitally important. For what he brings to the team, he’s the captain and an example,” the Barca boss told the official club website.
“His goalscoring has been brilliant despite a difficult start. He has shown time and again he is the best in the world.
“I know how much he wanted to win the Copa America and he has done it at last.
“Messi is the prime candidate for the Ballon d’Or after a great season and, for me, he is the favourite.”