Norway head coach Stale Solbakken has explained why he believes compatriot Erling Haaland should not win the Ballon d’Or this year.
Haaland broke the Premier League record last season for most goals scored in a single campaign, netting on 36 occasions in just 35 matches.
The Norwegian also scored 12 goals in the Champions League – more than any other player in the competition – as City lifted the trophy in Istanbul.
That has led to calls for Haaland to win the Ballon d’Or for 2023, having improved his already enormous goal output under the coaching of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.
He has also found the net consistently for his country, who are managed by one-time Wolves boss Solbakken. The former midfielder had an impressive yet brief spell in the Premier League with Wimbledon between 1997 and 1998.
Now, the Norway head coach has explained why Lionel Messi, not Haaland, should win the award this year.
He explained to Norwegian outlet VG: “If you ask me who I think will win, I will say Messi will win it thanks to his World Cup triumph. It still has an impact.”
Messi is the heavy favourite to lift the award for a seventh time as a result of his aforementioned exploits with Argentina.
The 36-year-old ticked the final item off his footballing checklist, at least in terms of trophies, before joining MLS franchise Inter Miami this summer.
He was named player of the tournament at the World Cup, with many believing that achievement alone should secure him the Ballon d’Or. Not everyone agrees, though.
And Haaland, speaking to Ballon d’Or organisers France Football before the tournament, stated that he believes he can compete with anyone to win the coveted prize.
The City striker said: “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 this year.”
Who do you think should win this year’s Ballon d’Or award? Messi, Haaland or someone else? Let us know in the comments.