Messi undeserving of sixth Ballon d’Or title? The only scandal is that he doesn’t have more

The Barcelona idol continues to reach new heights on the pitch, and his consistent brilliance means he has few equals at the top of world football

Perhaps it is fitting that Lionel Messi’s sixth Ballon d’Or, marking him out as the most successful player in the history of the prestigious award, comes in the wake of two superlative, match-winning performances in the space of four days.

At least it would be, were it not for the fact that Messi’s heroics against Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid are so commonplace as to be taken almost for granted.

Amid the grumblings over whether the brilliant Argentine really ‘deserves’ this latest recognition over his peers, then, some perspective is needed: if the Ballon d’Or were truly decided on pure talent and excellence on the football pitch Messi would boast far more than six in his overflowing trophy collection.

A friend since childhood of Messi’s as they grew up together in Rosario, Argentina midfielder Ever Banega was one of the first to suffer his talents in the city’s infant football circuit. The Sevilla man lined up for Alianza, while Messi was already a local superstar at Grandoli. “Alianza’s junior derby was against Grandoli,” he recalled to Ole in a 2007 interview, when he was coming through the ranks at Boca Juniors and Messi was beginning to conquer all-comers at Barca.

“We faced each other in several games, but thankfully he left pretty soon because he always destroyed us. You could already see he was a phenomenon.”

That phenomenon has gone on to redefine what is possible on a football pitch. Previous greats are synonymous with one or perhaps two seasons when the world seemed to bow at their feet: think Ronaldo in his sparkling single Barca term in 1996-97; Zinedine Zidane in 1998; Diego Maradona leading Napoli and Argentina to glory in the late 80s.

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