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‘Messi deserves everything beautiful in this world’ – Eto’o reveals his Ballon d’Or verdict

18:51 GMT+3 01/12/2021
LIONEL MESSI
The PSG superstar claimed his seventh Ballon d’Or crown on Monday, a few weeks after he clinched the GOAL50 prize

African legend Samuel Eto’o has defended Lionel Messi’s emergence as the winner of the 2021 Ballon d’Or - a record seventh win.

The 34-year-old forward pipped Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski to the crown while Chelsea's Jorginho and Real Madrid's Karim Benzema finished in the third and fourth spots respectively.

In the year under review, he led Argentina to Copa America glory and he also won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona before he clinched La Liga's top scorer award for the eighth time after scoring 30 goals in 35 games last season.

Messi’s triumph has generated mixed reactions but Eto’o – who is one of the most decorated footballers in Africa – believes the crown rightly fits his former teammate.

“Soccer is opinions. I remember in 2010, many thought that others had to win it,” Eto’o told AS.

“For us, it is fair that Leo wins because he is the best player in the world and when you are the best you have to win every day. I have the privilege of being one of your friends.

“People say that I am not objective, but Leo deserves everything that is beautiful in this world, so I am happy for him, for what he has contributed, what he contributes and what he is going to contribute. Now that he has the seventh I hope the eighth comes.

“Benzema and Lewandowski obviously deserved it. Mbappe deserved it, Kante deserved it, Jorginho deserved it ... But football is like that. Many of us think that we could be considered for the Ballon d'Or, but then there are people who are there to choose and we have to respect it. They have thought, like me, that Leo is the best and that he has to win.”

Messi is the only player who has won the Ballon d’Or seven times while Cristiano Ronaldo follows in second-place with five titles.

With both players in their 30s, Eto’o has picked Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate as the heir to the crown.

“It is there and it has arrived at a good moment, in which Messi and Cristiano, the gods of football, are in the night of their careers due to age and Mbappe is arriving,” he said.

“I hope it will be the biggest for the next 10 or 15 years. He has everything to be this unique player that soccer needs after these two monsters.”