While Manchester City had a successful night at the FIFA Best Awards two high-profile snubs highlight the absurdity of the prominent awards. The prestige of the awards can’t be called into question but as is often the case with the end of season awards some decisions do appear baffling.
Erling Haaland finished as runner-up to Lionel Messi for the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year. City’s midfield general Rodri also missed out on selection in the FIFPRO World 11 which was also announced last night. Both decisions appear baffling upon reflection.
Lionel Messi secures the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year over Haaland
Manchester City’s goal machine Erling Haaland had a 2023 to remember. His goals helped his side create history as they won 5 trophies in the calendar year of 2023. The performances of City’s number 9 saw him smash record after record and pick up a host of awards at the end of the 2022/23 season.
While Lionel Messi is a legend of the game and his performance at the 2022 World Cup was immense it shouldn’t be measured higher than Erling Haaland’s record-breaking season.
What Haaland achieved last season and in 2023 may never be seen again and someone will star at the FIFA World Cup every four years. The next star of the World Cup may not have the romance of Messi’s triumph with Argentina. It does raise the question does shining at the World Cup outshine another players entire season?
Haaland finished runner-up to Messi in the Ballon d’Or and now the Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year. Messi’s success at the World Cup was the deciding factor in the legends triumph over Haaland in both awards.
One positive for Haaland going forward is now Lionel Messi shouldn’t be a contender for football’s biggest individual awards. The Argentine legend is now 36 and playing in the MLS as his glittering career winds down. It should see the new guard of Haaland, Mbappe, Jude Bellingham and more battle it out for the prestigious awards.
Rodri’s non-selection in the FIFPRO World 11
The non-selection of Rodri in the FIFPRO World 11 appears even more baffling. It would be hard to argue that there is a more influential midfielder in world football than Rodri. He was arguably Manchester City’s most important player in 2023 and saw Pep Guardiola’s side win 5 major trophies.
Rodri had a season and 2023 for the ages. He scored the winner in Manchester City’s UEFA Champions League final over Inter Milan. The Spanish international was also voted the player of the FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Nations League Best Player and more. He’d have appeared to be one of the few players certain of a spot in the FIFPRO World 11 based on his performances but it wasn’t to be.
Rodri in 2023:
✅ Lifted more trophies (6) than games lost (4)
✅ Champions League final Player of the Match
✅ FIFA Club World Cup Player of the Tournament
✅ UEFA Nations League Finals Best Player
✅ Ranked 5th in the Men’s Ballon d’Or rankings
He wasn’t named in The Best… pic.twitter.com/cUiFtVfEmU
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) January 16, 2024
While Jude Bellingham, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva had outstanding seasons and were deserving of their places in the prestigious team Rodri should have been a shoe-in for a position.
While Manchester City had a successful night the snubs of Haaland and Rodri highlight the absurdity of the awards. They do appear to be more of a popularity contest rather than recognising outstanding consistent performances on the pitch.
But as Erling Haaland and Rodri have said on countless occasions the team accolades are more important than individual awards. The pair can look back on 2023 with the knowledge they have made history with Manchester City and are chasing more in 2024.