Messi and Bonmati favorites to win Ballon d’Or awards


PARIS (AP) — Lionel Messi is the favorite to win a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or on Monday.

The Argentine great fulfilled his life’s ambition by leading his country to the World Cup title in Qatar last year to win the one major trophy that eluded him in his storied career.

Spain’s Aitana Bonmati is the favorite for the women’s award after leading her country to victory at the Women’s World Cup in August.

Since moving to Inter Miami in the United States, Messi has already picked up his first silverware there by inspiring the team to victory in the U.S. Leagues Cup.

Despite leaving top-level European soccer behind, he is still tipped to beat Manchester City forward Erling Haaland to the sport’s biggest individual prize.

Paris Saint-Germain and France forward Kylian Mbappe is also in contention to succeed Karim Benzema, who at 34 last year became the oldest winner since the first recipient in 1956, Stanley Matthews.

Mbappe scored a hat trick in the World Cup final though France lost in a penalty shootout.

Haaland led City to a treble of trophies last season — Champions League, English Premier League, FA Cup — while scoring 52 goals.

Messi won his first Ballon d’Or in 2009 and his seventh in 2021.

The ceremony is scheduled to start at 1930 GMT.

Bonmati has been awarded UEFA best women’s player and the Golden Ball for the top Women’s World Cup player. She scored three times and assisted twice at the tournament.

For the first time last year, the trophy awarded by France Football magazine was based on achievements from the past season. It was previously awarded based on performances through a calendar year.

The women’s trophy was created in 2018, and both were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.


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