Manchester City striker Erling Haaland could win the 2023 Ballon d’Or if he gets Champions League glory this season according to football legend Ruud Gullit.
Haaland is enjoying a record-breaking debut season for the Citizens as his 51 goals and eight assists in 46 games in all competitions sees Pep Guardiola’s men top of the Premier League table, in the FA Cup final and in the semifinals of the Champions League.
Last week, the Norwegian gunman notably struck his 35th league goal of the season which broke the record for most Premier League goals scored in a single season.
Additionally, no other player in Europe has scored more league goals than Haaland with the closest being Tottenham striker Harry Kane with 26.
In any other year, he would have been a certainty to win the Ballon d’Or — which recognizes the best player in world football. However, Haaland is also doing all this in a season where Lionel Messi won a historic World Cup and still remains the frontrunner for the award.
That could change, however, if he goes on to win the Champions League with City.
“It’s very interesting – if Haaland wins the Champions League this year with Manchester City – then he could win the Ballon d’Or,” Gullit said (via The Mirror). “He will be a very strong contender for it, for sure.”
Manchester City face Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal this week and Haaland would definitely be in with a shout if they get past Carlo Ancelotti’s men and go on to win the competition.
It would be even more so the case if City won the treble by retaining the Premier League and beating Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Whether it would be enough to pip Messi given his magical World Cup campaign still remains to be seen.
But as far as ability goes, Gullit believes Erling Haaland is the same as Lionel Messi in terms of being a freak of nature.
“As a footballer, he’s out of the ordinary,” Gullit added. “You can’t compare him to anyone. There’s always one freak of nature that comes out. We had that with Lionel Messi. He was out of the ordinary, too. But Haaland…how he scores is fantastic. He’s exceptional in front of goal, one of a kind.”
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