World football news 2021 Ballon dOr Lionel Messi Robert Lewandowski Craig Foster

Dizzying statistics must continue to take a back seat to the unquestioned genius of Lionel Messi, Craig Foster argues, as the little Argentine claimed a record-extending seventh men’s Ballon d’Or today.

With 613 points, Messi pipped Poland’s insatiable striker Robert Lewandowski (580) and champion Italy midfielder Jorginho (460) to the coveted individual award.

Lewandowski can certainly count himself unlucky after scoring 41 goals for Bayern Munich in Germany’s top flight and continuing his prolific ways in internationals.

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Former Socceroos captain Foster – a former Ballon d’Or judge – acknowledged those achievements on the latest edition of Stan Sport FC.

“Lewandowski, Jorginho and Messi, in my view, are the three,” Foster said.

“Lewandowski had an unbelievable year, broke the Bundesliga scoring record, we know all that and Bayern now have 102 goals in the calendar year which has broken the German record as well. It’s just crazy.

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“But Messi also captained Argentina to the Copa America and there’s a certain sentimental essence of that. But also the difficulty of doing that as well.

“The leadership that he demonstrated by scoring key goals and other things, assists.

“I’m perfectly comfortable with that.”

Messi now has two more Ballon d’Or awards than fierce rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who was sixth in this year’s voting.

The award criteria includes individual and team performance, talent and sportsmanship of the player and the player’s overall career.

And on balance Foster declared that the claims of Messi, now playing for Paris Saint-Germain, remained irresistible.

“There’s many criteria and one is also just being the best. People just can’t touch you,” Foster said.

“In other words, I know these guys have won these other trophies over here and so on – but you as players are not a patch on this person.

“Therefore I’m voting for the best player in the world, that is also a criteria, and when you pack it all up, this year, including Copa America… I used to be a judge and I would have voted for Messi, given Copa America.”

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