Guardiola: Harland leads Ballon d’Or, Messi also deserves it

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has mischievously suggested that Lionel Messi should have his own Ballon d’Or award, but also believes that Ellyn Harland would be a deserving winner. Harland scored 52 goals in all competitions last season to help City win their first ever treble. Meanwhile, another Ballon d’Or win for Messi would make it a record eight.

Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland would be a worthy winner of the Ballon d’Or, but jokingly suggested Lionel Messi should have a section of the award to himself.

Haaland scored 52 goals in all competitions last season as Manchester City won the treble, while Messi has made a superb start to life at Inter Miami after netting 11 times in his first 13 appearances for the MLS side.

The Argentine also helped his country win the 2022 World Cup, scoring seven goals including two in the final, and was awarded player of the tournament.

The duo are the two favourites to win arguably football’s most prestigious individual honour, and a win for Messi would see him secure the golden ball for a record-extending eighth time.

“I always said that the Ballon d’Or had to be two sections: one for Messi and one for the others,” Guardiola jokingly quipped in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Premier League game with Brighton.

“But of course, Messi, if you tell me the worst season of Messi it is the best for the rest of them. Both deserve it.

“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.

“It’s nice that many players for Man City will be there for the first time in many years and challenging for these trophies. That makes us so proud for our organisation.”

City have John Stones available again following the defender’s recent recovery from a hip injury and Guardiola spoke about how his rehabilitation was managed after featuring in both of England’s games against Australia and Italy.

Guardiola: Harland leads Ballon d’Or, Messi also deserves it

“We were a little bit concerned,” Guardiola said. “We spoke with Gareth (England manager, Southgate), we have an incredible relationship. Txiki (Begiristain) text him after the game.

“They said they would take care of him. Fortunately everything was right and he is ready. We want our players in the national teams. They love to play for their countries. I’ve never said don’t go there.”

City now turn their attention to a match against Brighton on Saturday after losing their last two Premier League games against Wolves and Arsenal.

The reigning champions currently sit third in the table heading into the match, with 18 points from their first eight Premier League games.

After the draw against Liverpool, Brighton are two points behind third and fourth place in the table in sixth place.

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