Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) manager Mauricio Pochettino has picked his club’s latest summer signing, Lionel Messi, as his favorite for the 2021 Ballon d’Or.
The 49-year-old tactician has revealed that even if PSG hadn’t signed Messi in the summer transfer window, he would still have picked the former Barcelona superstar.
Pochettino has also picked Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo to finish second and third in the 2021 Ballon d’Or rankings.
He told El Partidazo de Cope (via PSG Talks):
“The Ballon d’Or should go to [Lionel] Messi without any doubt. And if I didn’t coach Messi, I would say Messi. I answer with my heart. I always say what I feel. On the podium would have to be [Robert] Lewandowski and Cristiano [Ronaldo].”
Despite a slow start to his PSG career, Lionel Messi remains one of the favorites to win the Ballon d’Or this year.
The Rosario native had an outstanding 2020-21 season for both Barcelona and the Argentina national team. He scored 38 goals in all competitions for the Catalan giants, helping them win the Copa del Rey.
Additionally, the forward finally won his first international tournament with Argentina, helping La Albiceleste lift the 2021 Copa America in the summer. He also won the Top Scorer and Best Player awards at the tournament.
Lionel Messi could become the first PSG player to win the Ballon d’Or
Despite their big-money Qatari takeover in 2011, which saw them sign multiple superstar players, PSG still haven’t had any Ballon d’Or winners.
The closest a PSG player has come to lifting the prestigious award was when Neymar Jr finished third in the 2017 Ballon d’Or, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Messi could become the first player from PSG to win the Ballon d’Or. However, the 34-year-old will face tough competition from the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho.
It is worth noting that only one player from the French league has ever won the Ballon d’Or. That was Marseille’s Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991.
If Lionel Messi manages to win the award, it will be his seventh Ballon d’Or. That will take him two clear of Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award on five occasions.
The 2021 Ballon d’Or ceremony will take place in Paris on the 29th of November 2021.