Erling Haaland suggests Ballon d’Or hopes hinge on Lionel Messi retirement

Manchester City star Erling Haaland finished second in the 2023 Ballon d’Or voting despite leading his club to the treble, and he believes he may have to wait until Lionel Messi retires before he can capture football’s greatest individual prize.

Haaland scored 52 goals in his first season with City in 2022-23, firing Pep Guardiola’s team to the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League trophies.

Yet that still wasn’t enough to deny Messi his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or, after he ended his long wait for World Cup glory with Argentina within the 2022-23 voting period.

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With Messi now plying his trade in Major League Soccer with Inter Miami, talk has turned to who may succeed the 36-year-old as the world’s best.

Haaland is sure to be in the conversation again in 2024, alongside Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid talisman Jude Bellingham.

Asked whether any other player can win the award while Messi remains active on Tuesday, Haaland said: “Good question!

“I don’t know. I’ve won it all but I’m only 23, so I want to win it all again.

“Messi is the best that has ever played, so maybe he has to retire for someone else to be regarded as the best.”

Haaland has scored 18 goals in 22 Premier League appearances this season, with his latest effort coming in City’s 3-1 win over rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

Messi, meanwhile, has scored three goals and supplied one assist during the first three games of Miami’s 2024 MLS campaign, leading the Herons to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

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