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Lionel Messi's GOAT status questioned as France boss Didier Deschamps insists it's 'difficult' to rank Inter Miami superstar ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe

  • Messi bagged record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or
  • Beat Haaland & Mbappe to the award
  • Deschamps not convinced that he is the greatest

WHAT HAPPENED? The Argentina and Inter Miami superstar led his nation to victory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scoring twice in their final victory over France. His exploits at the tournament ultimately ensured that he was awarded the Ballon d'Or for the eighth time in his career in Paris on Monday evening.

Messi has often been hailed as the greatest player of all time and adding the World Cup to his illustrious CV only bolstered those claims. Moreover, no other player comes close to the Argentine in terms of Ballon d’Or wins, with Ronaldo now a distant second with five wins after failing to make the final 30-man shortlist for the 2023 award. However, France head coach Deschamps still isn't convinced that the Inter Miami forward is the GOAT, and has argued that both Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe should be mentioned in the same bracket.

WHAT THEY SAID: “The Argentinians [say that Messi is the best of all time]. He is one of them, but it is difficult to say that Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo or Kylian Mbappe, who is younger," Deschamps told ESPN Deportes on the sidelines of the Ballon d’Or ceremony.

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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi beat Erling Haaland and Mbappe to the individual accolade despite the Norwegian frontman bagging 52 goals in the 2022-23 season while guiding Manchester City to a historic treble. Mbappe, meanwhile, also had a stellar campaign as he bagged 55 goals for both club and country, with Messi setting him up for several of those efforts in his final season at PSG.

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WHAT NEXT? Messi is expected to return to club action in MLS ahead of the new campaign in February with Inter Miami.