The Spanish press heaped praise on Lionel Messi after the 25-year-old became the first man to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or four times. “He is”, said El Mundo, “beyond classification.”
In his native Argentina, it has been suggested that Lionel Messi’s winning of a record fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or is almost not newsworthy, such is the continuing regularity with which the 25-year-old is honoured. Not so in his adopted homeland, where debate has grown surrounding just how many individual titles the FC Barcelona striker can win before he retires.
Spanish daily El País says Messi now practically owns the annual award which he collected at a gala in Zurich last night, taking him past Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten who each won it three times. “Messi makes the Ballon d’Or his own,” the publication declared before exposing a chink in his armour – he was heard muttering he was “really nervous” as he took to the stage to collect his trophy.
Barcelona-based La Vanguardia, meanwhile, believe the Argentina captain did not triumph “because of the titles he won in 2012,” but did so “because of the goals he scored – a record 91 for club and country in a calendar year – and his talent.” They explained: “That magnetic essence that makes football supporters all over the world shiver when they see him.”
While praising Messi as “the Unique One” and a player “who goes beyond all categorisation”, El Mundo also reflected on the fact that every player selected in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI played in the Liga. “It is a golden age for the country and may never be repeated.”
Argentina’s Clarín was of the belief that, “Messi’s achievements almost don’t seem newsworthy anymore,” adding: “If a record exists, he sets his sights on breaking it.” Club-mate Andrés Iniesta, and third in the Ballon d’Or voting, concurred. “If he continues playing the way he is he’ll win it again next year.”
Yet Messi continues to surprise according to Spanish news agency EFE, who contrasted the three-time UEFA Champions League winner’s “timid off-field personality” with his eye-catching polka dot attire. He must be running out of things to wear for these galas.
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