As expected Lionel Messi succeeded Cristiano Ronaldo as the winner of the Ballon d’Or award. The Barcelona star comfortably won the prize but he admitted his surprise at the margin of victory as he received 240 points more than Cristiano Ronaldo who finished second.
Messi was quite close to winning all 480 points possible as he finished with a near perfect 473 points while Real Madrid’s Ronaldo got 233 points which is less than half of Messi’s total! There is no doubt the Argentinian deserved to win since he was one of the main driving forces behind Barca’s treble winning season. He led all scorers in the Champions League with nine goals and scored in the final triumph against none other than Ronaldo’s Manchester United. The Catalan club’s star also scored 23 times in la Liga and was on the score sheet six times in the Copa del Rey.
The goals scored by Messi do not tell the whole story since his contributions transcend beyond the occasions he found the back of the net to include the assists he provided his fellow Barca players with. Messi’s assists totalled 18 in all competitions. The top spots on the list were dominated by Barca players which is also not surprising considering the influence of the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta as well as current Inter striker Samuel Eto’o.
Messi mentioned to France Football he is honoured to win the award and dedicated it to his family. He also said he was delighted to become the first Argentina to win the Ballon d’Or. Given the performances of Messi the past year, it is near impossible to find any other player more deserving of the individual award. It will not be a shock if Messi repeats next year, but his chances will be hindered if his country continues to struggle under Maradona’s leadership and fails to impress in South Africa 2010. Despite the concerns over Argentina and Maradona, who can bet against Messi repeating as the award winner?