Lionel Messi was awarded his eighth Ballon d'Or, but who was the favorite?
It's no longer news that Lionel Messi was presented with his eighth Ballon d'Or, an accolade that is likely to mark the culmination of his illustrious career. Naturally, there were no shortages of critics, as his club performances failed to impress, yet the World Cup always remained a top priority, and it was there that he excelled.
A few months ago, the contenders for the award numbered two: Messi and Holland, who clinched numerous titles with Manchester City in the previous season, amassing a plethora of goals. Over time, Messi's odds steadily dwindled. A mere week before the presentation of the most prestigious individual accolade, Messi was given odds of 1.1 to 1.2, while Holland's odds ranged from 5 to 6. Beyond that, there was a chasm, with Vinicius Junior, Kevin De Bruyne, and Kylian Mbappé, each at 50.
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As expected, the award was bestowed upon Messi, with Holland securing second place, and Mbappé claiming the third spot. The title of the world's best female player was conferred upon Aitana Bonmati, thanks to her impressive achievements with Barcelona, including a treble, and her victory in the World Cup with the Spanish national team. Notably, Messi's eight Ballon d'Or awards constitute a record that he has personally established, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo in second place with five.
Holland did, however, receive recognition with an award for the top goal-scorer, and the best goalkeeper distinction was bestowed upon Emiliano Martinez of the Argentine national team, a decision that stirred considerable debate. Jude Bellingham was named the best young player, a just accolade considering the Englishman's performances this season.