Pep Guardiola, the acclaimed coach of Manchester City, shared his thoughts on the upcoming Ballon d’Or award and the exceptional talents of Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland.
Guardiola, who knows both players intimately due to his past association with Messi at Barcelona and his current role managing Haaland, expressed his belief that Lionel Messi should have a category of his own for the Ballon d’Or.
Messi, who recently switched from Paris Saint-Germain to Inter Miami, stands as the favorite to secure his eighth Ballon d’Or, a record-extending achievement, following his pivotal role in Argentina’s World Cup victory last year.
Erling Haaland, on the other hand, could be Messi’s principal rival for the award. Haaland, with a remarkable tally of 52 goals in 53 games, played a crucial role in helping Manchester City secure the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup titles in the previous season.
Guardiola remarked, “Always I said that the Ballon d’Or should be in two sections, one for Messi, and after look for the other one, so Haaland should win, yes.”
He also emphasized the tremendous impact Haaland had on City’s achievements, while acknowledging that Messi’s worst season is still superior to most players’ best seasons.
Expressing his personal preference, Guardiola stated, “Egotistically, I would say I want Erling because he helped us to achieve what we achieved, I would love it, but I won’t tell you it’s unfair if Leo wins.”
He also highlighted the pride he felt in Manchester City’s players challenging for these prestigious awards, something that hasn’t happened in years for the club. The Ballon d’Or awards ceremony is scheduled for October 30 in Paris.
Additionally, Guardiola addressed the speculation surrounding Kalvin Phillips, a City midfielder who has struggled for playing time.
Phillips recently admitted the need for more playing time to maintain his place in the England squad for Euro 2024, potentially suggesting a January exit.
Guardiola remained open to the possibility, stating, “The transfer window is over, now we are here together. When there is something you need to do, there are still one or two players who can do it better. He will be here until winter. After, I don’t know what will happen because nobody knows once the window is open.”
Guardiola also highlighted the significance of the return of Rodri, the influential Spanish midfielder, following a three-match suspension.
Rodri’s absence was felt deeply during City’s recent matches.