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  • The French player reveals that he was surprised by his partner’s reaction and confesses that he wants to win an award that legitimizes him before the world

Yesterday, the final list of candidates for a Ballon d’Or was announced, which Messi will not opt ​​for the first time in 17 years. Only Mbappé appears as a representative of PSG, ambitious to start being the protagonist of this gala in which the best footballer on the planet is recognized. In an interview with France Football, the one that grants the award, the Frenchman explains what this important date means to him.

An award that interests: “It is a big lie that the footballer is not interested in the Ballon d’Or. It is hypocritical to say that. We all think about that. We talk about a team, and a collective, because in some way it serves to camouflage our ambition, but it is honest to admit that we care. For two years I have been a more realistic candidate for the award. Before I was content to be in the top ten. Now, on the other hand, I am among the four or five most regular”.

Conversations in the locker room: “We don’t talk about the Ballon d’Or in January, but we make comments when the lists appear. Later, as the ceremony draws near, it’s obviously a topic of conversation in the group. We make our bets, we debate our opinions. We also have the right. In any case, not all footballers participate in these talks”.

His first nomination, in 2017: “Frankly, it was an honor. I was bare of legal age and I was already associated with those great names. It may seem trivial, but it was something important. A real step forward in my career. Somehow it was a message that served to say that he was among the best. I was credited as an elite footballer in the eyes of the world, and it was significant to belong to that list at only 18 years old.

Winning a Ballon d’Or: “I’ve always wanted to do it early, without limiting my dreams. I want to win it and I don’t mind admitting it. I am convinced that lifting the first one is the most complicated. Once you have officially entered that select group, it will be easier to revalidate it. Why? Simply because this recognition allows you to gain legitimacy before the general public”.

The media duel between Messi and Ronaldo: “For a whole generation it was the eternal war between the two. For a decade they shared the Ballon d’Or. At each ceremony, it was fun to guess, from their faces, who was going to take it home. Digging a little in my memory, I also have a distant memory of the one that Ronaldinho won, but nothing compares to the stage between Leo and Cristiano”.

Messi as a reference: “The morning of the last gala I was nervous because a few hours later I was going to collect my seventh Ballon d’Or. Maybe I was thinking about what I was going to say, how I was going to lift the trophy. I told him: it is not possible to be restless after having been there six other times. I would have gone with a cigarette in my mouth! But that shows that he retains the soul of a child and that he is still excited to choose to be the best. He has not tired”.

Those who never received that recognition: “Xavi and Iniesta it was as if they won it in 2010. I remember that podium and we all had the feeling that it was a success for the three Barça players”.

Favorites this year: “I think Benzema, Mané, and me. Karim is 34 years old, he has just had the season of his life, he has won another Champions League in which he has been decisive. If he doesn’t take it, I stop believing in the Ballon d’Or forever.”


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