It is a typically outspoken Zlatan Ibrahimovic that voices the most criticism of his former team mate, stating that the tiny Argentineans lack of trophies should be his downfall. "Messi had a fantastic season but he has not won that much and he has already won the Ballon d'Or three times, It depends whether you reward an individual or a collective work."
The pony tail sporting Swede, now plying his trade with oil rich PSG, was not shy in mentioning his personal recommendations for the award, as well appearing somewhat green-eyed of Messi’s achievements. "Xavi is still playing at a high level, Iniesta also had a great season, they won Euro 2012 while Messi has not won anything, just the King's Cup. Messi has won the Ballon d'Or three times, it's now someone else's turn to win it."
Malian Midfielder Seydou Keita, who left the Catalonian giants in the summer, also seems to point favour in Xavi’s small direction. However, with the 34 year old Barcelona midfielder approaching the climax of his career it seems more a suggestion made out of pure sentiment than anything else. "Xavi really is an incredible player who has been playing on a very high level for years now."
"With all the titles he has won, he deserves a Ballon d'Or in my opinion. However, it wouldn't change anything about his career if he doesn't win it this year."
Not in keeping with the spirit of his once beloved fans, Barcelona legend Ronald Koeman feels that the award should go to the talisman of their arch rivals. "Who would I give the Ballon d'Or to? How many has Messi got? Three? Then I would give one to Ronaldo.
"Messi is the best player in the world. However, Cristiano is also a great player like Messi, and he has been making the difference in Madrid."
It would seem that Mr Ibrahimovic, Keita and Koeman have somewhat misunderstood the point of the Ballon d’Or. The mantle is not, and should not be, awarded on collective triumph, sentiment or an ever revolving roster of politeness.
By definition it is an association football award given annually to the player who is considered to have performed the best in the previous season, based on votes by coaches and captains of international teams, as well as journalists from around the world.
Last season Messi made UEFA Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in one match, and matched the record of 14 goals in a single Champions League season.
In a list of accolades that never ends he also became the first player to top-score in four successive Champions League campaigns, set the world record for most goals scored in a season with 73, and achieved the current goal scoring record in a single La Liga season, with 50 goals.
With his statistical record alone doing the talking it seems that there is no need for anyone else to do so. He will be a worthy winner.
Who do you think should win the coveted Ballon d’Or award?
image: © jeroen bennink