Lionel Messi has been named as the world’s best footballer in 2022 after inspiring Argentina to World Cup glory.
The Guardian have published their annual list of the 100 best male players in the game after a memorable year for the diminutive Paris Saint-Germain superstar.
His long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo – with whom Messi has shared 12 Ballon d’Ors, locking down the award for a decade between them – is way back in 51st place.
Kylian Mbappe, who scored a hat-trick in the sensational World Cup final that was won on penalties by Messi’s Argentina – following a 3-3 draw after 120 minutes – is in second.
Erling Haaland is the highest placed Premier League star in fourth, having plundered 25 league goals for Manchester City this season in just 19 games.
He is sandwiched by two Real Madrid players in Karim Benzema (third) and Luka Modric (fifth).
Kevin de Bruyne, Robert Lewandowski, Vinicius Junior, Thibaut Courtois and Mo Salah make up the rest of the top 10, in order.
The highest ranked England star is Harry Kane (13th) despite his costly penalty miss in the World Cup quarter-final versus France. Jude Bellingham is 14th after a breakout year for the teenage midfielder.
Messi and Ronaldo have had contrasting years, with the Argentinian rolling back the years at Qatar to claim his first ever World Cup winners’ medal.
For many, that cemented Messi as the greatest footballer of all time, and certainly secured him God-like status among his fellow countrymen. It certainly put him ahead of the Portugese forward.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo endured a spell of poor form for club and country, precipitated an ugly public spat with Manchester United after a controversial interview with Piers Morgan in which he slammed the club and its manager Erik ten Hag, and ended the year playing his football in Saudi Arabia for Al Nassr.