While Erling Haaland has just produced one of the greatest seasons in recent memory, in the eyes of one footballing legend, it still isn’t enough to put him ahead of Lionel Messi.
Since his arrival at the Etihad, the 6ft4 powerhouse has looked nothing short of sensational, cruising past defenders with ease before hammering the ball home with an incredible velocity that renders goalkeepers helpless.
Scoring an outrageous 52 goals in 53 games, the Norwegian has cemented his status as one of the best players on the planet, with many believing he’s already done enough to claim the number one spot.
But despite the 23-year-old winning an iconic treble, Dwight Yorke still thinks Messi is the top dog. And there’s an interesting reason why.
Dwight Yorke picks Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d’Or over Erling Haaland
In an astonishing career in which he’s mesmerised fans worldwide with his ability on the ball and sublime footballing IQ, there would’ve always been an asterisk had Messi never reached the pinnacle.
But on December 9, 2022, following a dramatic penalty shootout against the Netherlands, ‘Atomic Flee’ guided Argentina to the victory he’d always wanted.
He was finally a World Cup champion.
And while Haaland has achieved a great deal, Yorke believes the world stage will always transcend the Premier League.
Speaking to Genting Casino, he said: “The World Cup may only be seven games, but it’s seen as the biggest prize in our sport. Winning the Treble obviously requires a lot more consistency, but those trophies will always be overshadowed by the World Cup. Erling Haaland will have a great argument, but you can’t argue with what Lionel Messi’s done. Look at what he’s done with Inter Miami. He’s made the sport such a huge deal in America, and nobody has been able to make that kind of impact over there. It’s hard to look beyond Messi for the Ballon d’Or. People said he couldn’t be the greatest ever without a World Cup, and he went and did it. I think he’ll edge it, but Haaland has a right to feel hard done by.”
Dwight Yorke nearly won the Ballon d’Or in 1999
To this day, Yorke still feels aggrieved that he doesn’t have a Ballon d’Or trophy of his own.
He continued: “When I won the treble in 1999, I scored 29 goals and had 23 assists. I didn’t win the Ballon d’Or that year – Rivaldo did, even though I scored more goals in the Champions League that year. I didn’t even win the PFA Player of the Year! Rivaldo only scored three goals in the Champions League in 1999. That goes to show. I scored eight and won the trophy! Would I have won the Ballon d’Or if I was called Yorkinho? Absolutely!”
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