Lionel Messi’s status as a sporting legend extends far beyond the boundaries of football. As he vies for his eighth Ballon d’Or, an accolade often compared to MVP awards in other major sports, the debate about his place in sports history grows more complex. In this article, we explore how Messi’s Ballon d’Or triumphs stack up against the most frequent MVPs in the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL.
Messi’s Ballon d’Or Wins: Lionel Messi has etched his name into the annals of football history with an astounding seven Ballon d’Or titles, solidifying his position as the most successful player in the award’s history. Six of these wins were achieved during his tenure with Barcelona, while his 2021 victory came after his move to Paris Saint-Germain. His Ballon d’Or placements are as follows:
- 1st Place: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021
- 2nd Place: 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
- 3rd Place: 2007
Messi’s Domestic MVP Titles: Messi’s domestic success is equally impressive. He secured the La Liga Best Player award nine times while playing for Barcelona. In addition to this, he claimed the Copa America Best Player award in 2015 and 2021. Messi was also recognized as the best player at the 2014 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, highlighting his prowess on the international stage. Furthermore, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and received the Best FIFA Men’s Player honor in 2019 and 2022. Here is a breakdown of his domestic MVP achievements:
MVP Awards in Other Major Sports: While Messi’s Ballon d’Or wins are remarkable, it’s intriguing to compare his achievements with MVP awards in other major sports:
NBA: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar secured the MVP title six times between 1971 and 1980, while Bill Russell and Michael Jordan both achieved five MVP wins.
NFL: Quarterback Peyton Manning leads the NFL with five MVP titles, closely followed by Aaron Rodgers with four and Tom Brady with three.
MLB: Barry Bonds is the standout MVP in baseball, claiming the award seven times, twice with the Pittsburgh Pirates and five times with the San Francisco Giants.
NHL: Wayne Gretzky dominates hockey’s MVP scene with an astounding eight MVP titles, followed by Gordie Howe with six.
Comparing MVP Awards: When we compare the Ballon d’Or to these prestigious MVP prizes, Lionel Messi stands at the precipice of history. With seven Ballon d’Or wins, he is only one shy of second place on the all-time list. Wayne Gretzky’s nine MVP titles in the NHL are the closest, but Messi’s incredible football journey has brought him within reach of joining ‘The Great One.’
Will Messi Be the MLS MVP for 2023? Despite his limited games played in the MLS, Lionel Messi was nominated for the MVP award in 2023 by Inter Miami. However, he did not make the shortlist. The final three contenders for the MLS MVP award are Luciano Acosta, Denis Bouanga, and Thiago Almada. Nevertheless, Messi remains in the running for the Newcomer of the Year award.
As Lionel Messi continues to add to his incredible collection of Ballon d’Or titles, his legacy as one of the greatest athletes in the world grows stronger. The comparisons with MVP awards in the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL further underscore his remarkable achievements. Messi’s journey through the world of football has elevated him to a position where he stands just one step away from joining the legendary Wayne Gretzky in the record books. Whether or not he achieves this feat, his legacy is secure as one of the greatest athletes in history.