Lionel Messi is on a one-man mission to win his first international trophy.
Messi thriving for Argentina
The Barcelona icon might have celebrated his 34th birthday during Copa America 2021, but age certainly isn’t slowing down his quest to lift silverware in the colours of his nation.
In fact, when Messi fired home a stunning free-kick to cap Argentina’s quarter-final win over Ecuador on Saturday night, he consolidated his position as the tournament’s leading goalscorer.
Not only did Messi secure his fourth Man of the Match award in the space of five appearances, but he did so with a deluge of goal contributions by way of notching four strikes and four assists.
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Messi’s stunning 2021
And while the hardest two games are still to come, you wouldn’t put it past Messi to sweep past Colombia in the semi-finals and either Brazil or Peru in the final based on his current form.
Besides, Messi’s performances this summer have been true to his stunning end to the season with Barcelona, almost helping the Blaugrana to the unlikeliest of La Liga titles with a late flurry of goals.
So, all in all, 2021 has been pretty kind to Messi and it’s a favourable situation that sees him being linked with Ballon d’Or glory in the year that France Football’s coveted prize is set to return.
Upon the turn of the year, you’d probably have been laughed off social media for suggesting that Messi would win the 2021 Ballon d’Or but alas, he’s arguably the leading contender as we enter July.
Messi: Favourite for Ballon d’Or
Well, that’s certainly the case as far as UK bookmakers are concerned with Messi now listed as the favourite across all major British companies running the special, according to oddschecker.com.
It’s an unexpected change of events when you consider that Kylian Mbappe was a strong favourite for the prize when we last inspected the Ballon d’Or odds as recently as May.
However, things change at break-neck in speed in football, so be sure to check out the latest 2021 Ballon d’Or odds from Paddy Power – accurate at the time of writing – down below:
=14. Serge Gnabry – 40/1
=14. Mason Mount – 40/1
=12. Erling Braut Haaland – 33/1
=12. Phil Foden – 33/1
11. Ciro Immobile – 25/1
10. Romelu Lukaku – 14/1
9. Kevin De Bruyne – 12/1
8. Raheem Sterling – 10/1
7. Neymar – 9/1
=3. Cristiano Ronaldo – 6/1
=3. Kylian Mbappe – 6/1
=3. Robert Lewandowski – 6/1
=3. N’Golo Kante – 6/1
2. Harry Kane – 4/1
1. Lionel Messi – 9/4
History beckons for Messi
He couldn’t, could he? If Messi can lead Argentina to Copa America glory this summer then surely his place at the top of the Ballon d’Or odds will endure until the ceremony itself.
It’s no secret that the Ballon d’Or is weighted towards players who win the year’s most significant titles, so marrying cold, hard silverware to stunning individual displays will be vital for Messi.
And with key rivals such as Kante, Lewandowski, Mbappe, De Bruyne and Ronaldo having exited Euro 2020 before the quarter-final stage, the door is arguably wide open for Messi to pounce.
If so, then surely the GOAT conversation will become nothing short of a formality with Messi amassing a staggering seven Ballon d’Or trophies that will surely never be topped.