My father is from Argentina. This is where my love of soccer comes from. Growing up, Lionel Messi was a prime figure that I followed throughout my youth.
This past summer he won his first major trophy for Argentina. They won Copa American beating Brazil in Brazil, in the final. Decades in the making, the "Albicelestes" finally brought home silverware to the soccer crazed nation.
That seemingly weighed heavier than anything else to the panel of journalists from around the world who vote for the Player of the Year award. Messi is almost extraterrestrial, and one can argue he deserves to win this award almost every year he's been a professional. Messi affects games in a multitude of ways. Scoring goals is only a portion of his impact for the teams he represents. Winning his record 7th Ballon D'Or is absolutely incredible and a deserved accomplishment.
But...I'm going to go ahead and say it. I believe Robert Lewandowski deserved it more.
Messi seemed to agree just a little bit during his acceptance speech.
"It's an honor to fight with Robert for this award. You deserve your Ballon D'Or too." Said the Argentine during the ceremony Monday night in Paris.
Yes this award is the for the best player in the world in 2021. (Lewandowski won more club trophies than Messi in this year) But to me it is a crime that Lewandowski wasn't given some credit for what was a historic 2020. He scored over 50 goals in all competitions. His club, Bayern Munich, won the treble, including the UEFA Champions League. In that tournament, Lewandowski's team eliminated Messi's Barcelona squad 8-2 en route to lifting the trophy. He led the team that won every tournament they entered convincingly. He was the obvious favorite to win the award in 2020.
The pandemic forced the cancellation of the award all together last year. A decision that still doesn't make sense to me. If UEFA was able to hold games behind closed doors, including virtual press conferences to fulfill media obligations, why couldn't they hold a virtual gala to announce the winners of all the 2020 awards.
While I will not take away any of Lionel Messi's accomplishments, I believe this just adds another chapter in the long line of shady and interesting decisions in the soccer world. The Ballon D'Or has a significant meaning for the players, probably more than that of the fans. The term legacy gets thrown around quite a bit among the best soccer players in the world. Awards and trophies define those legacies, and Lewandowski deserves that notch on his belt.