Lionel Messi was named the winner of the 2023 FIFA Best Men’s Player award on Monday, claiming the prize for the third time after a momentous 2022 that saw him lead Argentina to World Cup glory. Messi beat out Manchester City phenom Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappé for the honor, which covered player performances from December 19th, 2022, through August 20th, 2023.
The 35-year-old Messi secured the award largely thanks to his exploits for club and country during this eligibility period. He helped Paris Saint-Germain capture yet another Ligue 1 title before shockingly departing for MLS club Inter Miami in July, where he immediately inspired them to the first trophy in franchise history by winning the League Cup tournament. Messi was equally impactful at the international level, captaining Argentina to the top of the South American World Cup qualifying table over six matches as they built towards the 2026 tournament.
Given his travels over the past year, Messi was unable to attend the Best Awards ceremony held in London. The three nominees were selected through a collaborative process involving FIFA stakeholders, with shortlists created by panels of legendary players and managers. The final winner was then voted on by journalists, fans, national team captains and coaches from around the globe.
This marks Messi’s 8th major global player award and his 3rd FIFA Best title specifically, having previously earned the honors in 2019 and 2022. It caps a whirlwind 2023, which saw him win another domestic league, get booed by angry fans, inspire a miracle cup run in Miami, and continue to shine for his national team.
The two other finalists, Erling Haaland and Mbappé, also turned in standout 2023 campaigns. Haaland took the football world by storm in his first season at Manchester City, scoring a record 52 goals across all competitions as they won a domestic treble. He’s kept up that ridiculous scoring pace this season as well. Mbappé briefly played alongside Messi last season at PSG and remains the top goalscorer in Ligue 1, though his future with the club is unclear with his contract expiring in June.