Lionel Messi wins record eighth Ballon d’Or after World Cup glory with Argentina
Lionel Messi did not give Jude Bellingham a first-place vote when making his picks for the Kopa Trophy. But the Real Madrid player still won the award given to the world’s best under-21 player by a wide margin ahead of Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala and Barcelona’s Pedri.
Bellingham, 20, got 90 out of a potential 96 points from the ballot of 32 former Ballon d’Or winners. First-place votes gave the recipient three points, with second-place receiving two and third-place carrying one point.
Musiala finished as the distant runner-up, 48 points behind Bellingham. The Germany international previously finished third in each of the last two years and is now the only player to make the podium three times in the award’s five-year history.
Pedri, who won the 2021 award, finished third two years later with 33 points. Messi’s ballot had all three players on it but in the inverse order.
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The World Cup winner had Musiala atop his list, with former Barcelona teammate Pedri taking second place ahead of Bellingham. Inter Miami’s captain is one of 12 players to have their ballots released by All Football.
Bellingham does not yet get to vote on the Ballon d’Or winner; that honor is for the coaches and captains of the top 100 national teams, according to the FIFA World Rankings. However, he shared where his vote would have gone during the ceremony.
“It’s a World Cup year, and Lionel Messi had a fantastic World Cup; he deserves to win the Ballon d’Or,” Bellingham said. In a speech after accepting the award, the player thanked those who supported his journey before acknowledging that: “there is more to come.”
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The midfielder has little to prove to anyone, except perhaps last year’s Ballon d’Or winner, Karim Benzema, the only other voter from the 12 who did not give Bellingham their first-place vote. The former France international instead had Eduardo Camavinga top of his list, with Pedri second and Bellingham third.
Camavinga can count himself unlucky to miss out on the top three after featuring on eight of the 12 ballots released. While Benzema was the only one with his fellow Frenchman top, Andriy Shevchenko, Fabio Cannavaro, teammate Luka Modric and Ronaldinho had him in second place.
Former Madrid Galactico Luis Figo, Marco van Basten, Oleg Blokhin, and Zinedine Zidane gave him third-place votes, too. Perhaps surprisingly, the reigning award-winner, Gavi, did not make the top three a year on, despite still being a teenager and thus still eligible for the trophy.
But he did receive at least two votes, as Modric had the Barcelona midfielder at third on his ballot, and Blokhin had him at second place on his.
Barcelona left-back Alejandro Balde also amassed votes, with Ronaldo Nazario and Kaka having him at third on their identical ballots behind Bellingham and Musiala. Benfica center-back Antonio Silva also got a vote from countryman Figo.
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