- Messi’s star turn in the 2022 World Cup has likely swayed the award’s voters
- Bonmati was a lynchpin in Barca’s successful reclaiming of Champions League
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Lionel Messi is set to win his eighth Ballon d’Or later this month, with the World Cup winner to become the first player playing outside of the European top flight to take home the storied award, according to reports.
The Argentine’s eighth trophy extends his record as the most-decorated receipient of the award, and will see the 36-year-old reclaim the Ballon d’Or after it went to Al-Ittihad’s Karim Benzema in 2022.
The former Barcelona star has long been the frontrunner to scoop the top prize at the awards ceremony in Paris at the end of October, after captaining Argentina to victory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Securing Messi had a transformative effect on the side’s mid-season fortunes, as the playmaker’s instant impact saw the team rise from the bottom of the pack to win its first-ever Leagues Cup title.
After an invigorating move to Inter Miami, Lionel Messi is set to win his eighth Ballon d’Or
The Argentine last scooped France Football’s prize in 2021 after the start of his first season at Paris Saint-Germain
The 36-year-old made history when he clinched the World Cup in Qatar last December 2022
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Inter Miami also reached the final of the US Open Cup, but lost to Houston Dynamo FC after their star player was unable to feature in the tie due to injury.
As per Spanish outlet SPORT, the women’s iteration of the award will likely to be scooped up by Aitana Bonmati, who played a starring role in Spain’s sensational Women’s World Cup victory in Australia.
The Barcelona midfielder was named the World Cup’s Player of the Tournament after Spain defeated England in August’s final, and took home the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year trophy in September.
Bonmati will be the second consecutive Barcelona star to lift the Ballon d’Or, after her team-mate and compatriot Alexia Putellas received the award last year.
But as much as the ceremony will have a ‘made in Catalonia’ feel due to Messi’s enduring links with the Blaugrana, fans will have to wait a little longer to see both Ballon d’Or winners feature in the same colours in the same season.
Messi’s arrival in the United States has had a transformative impact on the fledgling club
Aitana Bonmati previously won UEFA Women’s Player of the Year for her starring role in Barcelona’s dominant Champions League campaign
The midfielder was awarded Player of the Tournament at this summer’s Women’s World Cup
Reports that Messi was planning to engineer a loan move back to the Catalan club during MLS off season were snuffed out last week.
Instead, the player is set to focus fully on his committments to Miami and Argentina as he prepares for his first full season in his domestic club’s pink jersey.
Inter Miami are due to travel to China in November after inking a deal to play friendlies against two Chinese Super League sides after failing to reach the play-offs.
The club will face Qingdao Hainiu FC at the start of the month, before travelling to Chengdu to face Chengdu Rongcheng on November 8.
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!