The 2023 Ballon d’Or will be won by Lionel Messi, a major leak of the prestigious footballing awards has claimed.
Spanish newspaper Sport has revealed the men’s and women’s recipients of the gong ahead of the Paris ceremony on October 30.
Erling Haaland, Jude Bellingham and Kylian Mbappe have all been tipped to compete with Messi after superb years, in particular for the Manchester City striker after he hit 52 goals en route to winning the treble with his club.
However, Messi is due to scoop the award for his efforts in winning the World Cup for Argentina in Qatar.
The Inter Miami star would be the first player based outside of Europe to win the Ballon d’Or, which was created in 1956. His last honour came in 2021 after guiding his country to the Copa America title.
The winner of the women’s award, the Ballon d’Or Feminin, has also been leaked in the report.
Six members of Spain’s World Cup-winning team are on the 30-player longlist and Barcelona midfielder Aitana Bonmati, who won the Golden Ball at the tournament Down Under, is set to scoop the award.