Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland Sets Sights on Ballon d’Or Amidst Messi Challenge

September 11, 2023 11:40 am

Erling Haaland has his sights set on football’s most coveted prize, the Ballon d’Or, even as the odds-on favorite, Lionel Messi, looms large.

In a sensational debut season at Manchester City, Haaland notched a staggering 52 goals. His remarkable contributions propelled the Blues to triumph in the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup. Follow your favourite Premier League team with attractive football betting odds from Nextbet. 

To cap it off, they added the Super Cup to their collection at the dawn of this season. Few players have ever delivered such an exceptional individual campaign, marked by Haaland’s record-breaking goal-scoring feats in the Premier League.

Haaland’s stellar year might typically position him as the frontrunner for the Ballon d’Or, but Lionel Messi’s heroics in leading Argentina to World Cup glory have made him the bookmakers’ choice for the 2023 accolade.

Messi’s masterclass in Qatar saw him carry Argentina through the World Cup, scoring pivotal goals, including a brace in the final and a decisive contribution in the penalty shootout. While Messi’s performance at PSG remained commendable, it did not quite reach the dizzying heights of Haaland’s season. Therefore, the Norwegian striker believes he stands a significant chance of defying the odds and claiming the Ballon d’Or when the winner is revealed at the end of October.

In an interview with L’Equipe, Haaland discussed his prospects and his drive to build upon his extraordinary 12 months in Manchester.

When asked if he considered himself the world’s best striker, Haaland replied with tact, “In my mind… It all depends on what we mean by striker. It’s a trick question. I’m definitely up there. Am I the best? Maybe. I know I can still improve a great deal. I’m still young. But yes, I believe I have a chance [at winning the Ballon d’Or] this year.”

Kylian Mbappe is another contender for the prestigious award, having played a pivotal role in France’s journey to the World Cup final, orchestrating a remarkable comeback from 3-1 down to force a penalty shootout. However, Haaland dismissed the notion of a rivalry between himself and Mbappe, likening it to the longstanding comparisons between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Get the latest updates from the Premier League only on Nextbet Sports

“That’s what everyone thinks, but you have to emphasize just how crazy the things Messi and Cristiano have done,” Haaland commented. 

“You also have to remember that they’re still doing it, even if they’re getting older. They’re still fantastic players. But I never talk about myself being against other players, it’s not my way of seeing things. I focus on myself, I only try to be better every day, to continue enjoying what I do and being the best version of myself.”

As for his unique ability to find space in the box and convert crosses into goals, Haaland attributed it to a blend of instinct and dedicated effort. He elaborated, “This is part instinct and, obviously, hard work. Instinct is the belief the ball will come in a given place, a kind of sixth sense hidden in the brain. But apart from that, you need to work a lot, work on your individual abilities, and learn to understand your teammates. It’s an understanding of the game with that instinct that tells you, ‘It’s now’.”