Lionel Messi was crowned as the best men’s player for 2023, while Aitana Bonmati added to her collection of individual accolades by winning the women’s award at FIFA’s award ceremony in London.
Messi retained the award on Monday night by beating Manchester City’s treble-winning Norwegian striker Erling Haaland in a tie-break as France’s Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe finished third.
The 36-year-old was a surprise victor ahead of Haaland as the award covered only the period after Messi had led Argentina to World Cup glory in December 2022 to August 2023.
During that time the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner had a subdued end to his career at Paris Saint-Germain, despite winning the Ligue 1 title, before joining MLS side Inter Miami in June.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) January 15, 2024
While Messi quickly made his mark in the United States as he helped the franchise to their first trophy by winning the Leagues Cup in August, Haaland was the favourite to win after scoring 52 goals in his debut season with City as the English side won a treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.
After receiving the same number of points (48) from a scoring system based on votes from national team captains, coaches, journalists and fans, Messi was crowned victor thanks to more first-choice nominations.
However, all three of the men’s finalists did not attend the ceremony leaving Arsenal and France legend Thierry Henry, who was co-hosting the event, to pick up the award in Messi’s absence.