FORMER Ballon d’Or winner and Brazil icon Rivaldo believes Lionel Messi was a deserved winner for this year’s hotly debated Ballon d’Or.
Messi beat Robert Lewandowski to the award by just 33 points, and ex-Barcelona man Rivaldo reckons both would have been worthy winners, as would Karim Benzema.
Messi is two ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the most Ballon d’OrsCredit: AFP
Rivaldo won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and the Ballon d’Or in 1999Credit: AP:Associated Press
Even Messi himself admitted that Lewandowski DESERVED to land the prize.
Speaking to betfair, Rivaldo said: “He [Messi] deserved the award based on his performances for Argentina as they won the Copa America – a trophy they have coveted for many years – and he was the best player of the tournament.
“There will always be arguments about the Ballon D’or, as there are so many voters from all over the world and there is so much footballing talent around.
“It’s possible the Argentinian’s amazing career also had some influence on those voters who were wavering. “
And despite this year’s prize being the SEVENTH Ballon d’Or of the 34-year-olds incredible career, Rivaldo is remains unconvinced that Messi is the greatest of all time.
Instead he backs fellow countryman Pele in the argument of who is the world’s greatest player in history.
The fact that Pele won THREE World Cups in his career, with Messi yet to win football’s greatest prize, is the deciding factor in Rivaldo’s opinion.
Rivaldo continued: “He will be remembered as one of the best players ever, but it’s tough to say he already is the best, as he is still chasing a World Cup title with Argentina.
“Other players, such as Pele, won the World Cup many times so I don’t think Messi should be considered the best ever.
“He is up there, though, and would make the top three.”
The Blues midfielder finished third in the voting, with Rivaldo noting: “He is a defensive midfielder and the award tends to favour attacking players.
“Ending the year as the third best player in the world, however, is a reason for the Italian to feel very proud of himself.”
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