Kylian Mbappe makes thoughts clear on ex-PSG teammate Lionel Messi winning Ballon d'Or – The Mirror

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe were team-mates last season, and Argentina star Messi has gone on to win a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or after leaving Paris Saint-Germain
Kylian Mbappe believes Lionel Messi deserved to beat him to the 2023 Ballon d'Or, arguing the forward's exploits in the World Cup final sealed the deal long before the award was made official.
Mbappe and Messi were team-mates at Paris Saint-Germain last season, winning Ligue 1 together before the latter left Europe for Inter Miami. They were on opposing sides in the World Cup final, though, with Mbappe's hat-trick for France not enough to deny Messi and Argentina glory in Qatar.
PSG's underwhelming Champions League performance left some arguing Treble winner Erling Haaland was a more worthy winner than Messi. Mbappe doesn't agree, though, after claiming the third spot on the podium himself.
“I am not scared that it [the award] has escaped me," Mbappe told reporters (as translated by Get French Football News ). "Messi deserves it.
"In the evening of the 18th [December 2022], I knew he’d won the World Cup and the Ballon d’Or. I had a great season, like Haaland, but when you win the World Cup, that makes the difference.”
It was the first time Mbappe, who won the Golden Boy award in 2017, has recorded a podium finish in the Ballon d'Or race. While he top-scored at the World Cup with eight goals, he recognised Messi's trophy win – his first World Cup of a storied career – was key to determining who won the top honour at the 2023 ceremony.
Did Lionel Messi deserve to win the Ballon d'Or? Have your say in the comments section
Mbappe's comments are at odds with those of former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Jerome Rothen. “For me, Haaland should have won it," Rothen told RMC Sport earlier in the year.
"Between August 2022 and June 2023, what criteria lead us to believe that Messi is better than the rest? There is basically no criterion where he is the number one."
Rothen isn't the only one banging the drum for Haaland. Gunnar Halle, a former Norway international who played with the Manchester City striker's father Alfie at Leeds United, has also made the case for his compatriot, though he recognised why Messi won out in the end.
“He won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Champions League and scored almost 60 goals – I’m not sure what else he could have done!” Halle told Sunday Mirror Sport in early November. “He was fantastic but I think people were expecting Messi to win it.
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“They hoped that Erling would, but because of the World Cup I think it was always going to be Messi. I’m not sure that anyone in Norway was too surprised. Erling statistics are incredible, and the way he has been scoring and the competitions he has won, he probably should have won.
“But there you go. That happens sometimes. But it certainly won’t change the way that people feel about him. Everywhere you look there are Manchester City shirts with his name on the back. Before they would have beenManchester Unitedshirts – you don’t see that anymore!”
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