Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has backed his former team-mate Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career.
Messi, who has won the trophy more than any other player on six occasions, is part of a 30-man shortlist for the prestigious award, which also includes the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe and the Argentine’s former Barca team-mate Pedri.
Even during a coronavirus-affected year and a high-profile switch from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, Messi has scored 38 goals in 47 club appearances.
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Messi won the player of the tournament as Argentina lifted the Copa America for the first time since 1993, and also led Barca to Copa del Rey success.
With the award set to be given out at a glitzy ceremony on November 29, Barcelona defender Pique believes the PSG forward should have won more Ballon d’Or awards in previous years.
"I think Leo will win Ballon d’Or for sure,” he told Spanish broadcaster Ibai Llanos on Twitch on Monday night.
He has seven trophies and some others he could have won. We all know Leo is the best player in this generation.
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“The parameters for this trophy are so distorted that people no longer know what we are valuing.
"If we are valuing trophies, Jorginho should be the winner but if you value the best player in the world, Leo must be the winner.
“If it's valuing trophies plus performance plus figures... The winner is also Leo. Leo should have won more than seven times.”
In July, Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman also backed bookies' favourite Messi to pick up the award in Paris.
He said: "He [Messi] has shown time and again he is the best in the world.
"I know how much he wanted to win the Copa America and he has done it at last. Messi is the prime candidate for the Ballon d’Or after a great season and, for me, he is the favourite."
PSG manager and Messi's compatriot, Mauricio Pochettino, says Messi has to win it.
"The Ballon d’Or should go to Messi without any doubt," he told reporters last week.
"And if I didn’t coach Messi, I would still say Messi. I answer with my heart. I always say what I feel."
Patrice Evra says he is “sick of giving it [the Ballon d’Or] to Messi" and has backed Chelsea pair N’Golo Kante and Jorginho for the award.
WHO IS NOMINATED FOR THE MEN’S 2021 BALLON D’OR?
- Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
- Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)
- Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
- Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
- Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
- Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
- Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
- Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
- Phil Foden (Manchester City)
- Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
- Jorginho (Chelsea)
- Harry Kane (Tottenham)
- N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
- Simon Kjaer (AC Milan)
- Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
- Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
- Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
- Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)
- Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
- Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
- Mason Mount (Chelsea)
- Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Pedri (Barcelona)
- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
- Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
- Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
WHO IS NOMINATED FOR THE WOMEN’S 2021 BALLON D’OR?
- Kadidiatou Diani (PSG)
- Fran Kirby (Chelsea)
- Jennifer Hermoso (Barcelona)
- Christiane Endler (Lyon)
- Christine Sinclair (Thorns FC)
- Ashley Lawrence (PSG)
- Irene Paredes (PSG, Barcelona)
- Jessie Fleming (Chelsea)
- Lieke Martens (Barcelona)
- Sandra Panos (Barcelona)
- Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal)
- Ellen White (Manchester City)
- Pernille Harder (Chelsea)
- Sam Mewis (North Carolina Courage)
- Wendie Renard (Lyon)
- Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG)
- Stina Blackstenius (Hacken)
- Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea)
- Sam Kerr (Chelsea)
- Alexia Putellas (Barcelona)
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