The Inter Miami star edged out his former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe and Manchester City’s Erling Braut Haaland for the honour.
Many people believe this could also be his final Ballon d’Or due to his declining age, raising questions about who could be the future winner of the prestigious award.
Messi handpicked Haaland, Mbappe and Vinicius Junior as potential candidates, but the surprising name in his list is Barcelona’s up-and-coming talent Lamine Yamal.
The 16-year-old is proving to be one of the hottest prospects in Europe, having established himself as a regular for Barca’s first team.
His precocious talent also helped him break into the Spanish national team last month. By doing so, Yamal became the youngest-ever debutant in the team’s history.
He also surpassed Gareth Bale as the youngest goal scorer in a European Championship qualifying game.
Yamal has already drawn comparisons with Messi for his roots with La Masia and also sharing a similar playing style.
The Spanish teenager has made 14 appearances for Barca across all competitions this season, registering a goal and three assists.
“There are lots of young players that will fight for the Ballon d’Or,” Messi told L’Equipe.
“It could be hotly contested in the coming years with players like Haaland, Mbappe and Vinicius Junior.
“I also think that Lamine Yamal, who is still very young but who has already played very well with Barcelona and has become an important player.”
Messi’s words are a testament to Yamal’s incredible potential, and a bright future awaits the Spaniard if he continues his impressive progress with the Catalan giants.
In addition to Yamal, Fermin Lopez and Marc Guiu have also made a great impact for Barca this season.
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