Lionel Messi World Cup

Lionel Messi: The legend looking for a new World 11 record


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Lionel Messi World Cup
  • Lionel Messi has been named in every FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11 since 2007

  • Only Cristiano Ronaldo has achieved the same feat

  • We take a look at why Messi is one of 26 nominees for the 2022 FIFA FIFPRO Men's World 11

Lionel Messi is synonymous with the FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World 11. When people talk about the incredible length of time Messi has been performing at the highest level, the team of the year is a perfect benchmark: since 2007 the Argentinian has been elected every year by his fellow players. Of the 17 times the Men's World 11 has been organised since the award was created in 2005, Messi was only absent from the first two.

Everything is still to be revealed for the 2022 team of the year, and as always the votes of players worldwide will have the last word, deciding who will be the 11 honoured at the gala for The Best FIFA Football Awards 2022, to be held in Paris on 27 February 2023.

But the recent images of Messi doing a lap of honour with the World Cup trophy entitle the Argentina captain to feel optimistic about being named in the 2022 World 11. There are three places reserved for forwards — potentially four, according to the rules — and he will be competing with Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland, Neymar Jr, and Cristiano Ronaldo, the only other player who has made 15 appearances in the World 11.

If either of the two — or both — are selected this time, they will also hold the all-time record of 16 Men’s World 11s.

How does the World 11 voting work?

Messi’s achievements

The assessment period for the 2022 award is unusual in being a year and a half, because of the 2022 World Cup: from 8 August 2021 to 18 December 2022 inclusive.

Without a doubt, Messi’s finest performance in that period was in the seven matches he played in the World Cup, captaining Argentina to their third title. He netted seven goals — two in the final — and finished just one behind top scorer Kylian Mbappe.

Messi also provided three assists, including some for the World Cup history books, such as the through-ball converted by Nahuel Molina for a 1-0 lead against the Netherlands, or the pass for the third goal against Croatia in the semi-final.

But beyond his numbers, what led Messi to win the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player was his overwhelming influence on Argentina’s attacking play and his positive leadership of his team-mates.

What Argentina thinks of its leader

"He’s obviously a leader in football terms, but when he speaks he uses the right words. And what he conveys to his team-mates is something I’ve never seen in anyone else. It’s incredible. I can talk about it but you have to experience it. What he transmits... How his team-mates look at him, the admiration in their eyes."
Lionel Scaloni, Argentina manager

"He deserves [to be world champion] more than anyone. He’s my idol. He’s the best of all time."
Enzo Fernandez, midfielder and winner of the Best Young Player award at Qatar 2022

"You always learn when you’re playing with him by watching what he does, although we know it’s very difficult to try to copy his skills. He’s always been my idol, so when I’m playing I try to do my best to help him."
Julian Alvarez, second highest goalscorer for Argentina at Qatar 2022

"Just a few minutes before, we talked about how things were going. He said: ‘They’re dropping deep, so give it to me through the middle’. Spaces were opening up behind and he’d spotted it. When we had the opportunity, I gave it to him. My pass was rubbish, but he always finds the solution to everything, always."
Angel Di Maria, on the move that led to the opening goal against Mexico at Qatar 2022

“My feelings, the feelings of my team-mates and the whole of Argentina [on being world champions] were much stronger than I’d imagined. And what I’d imagined was very strong”

— by Lionel Messi

Messi's individual awards

  • Golden Ball at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
  • Silver Boot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
  • Best Argentine Sportsperson of 2021
  • Best Argentine Sportsperson of 2022

Messi at club level 2021/22

The 2021/22 season was difficult for Messi because of his sudden move to Paris Saint-Germain after so many years at Barcelona, as well as the fact that he was unable to complete the pre-season as he needed to after winning the Copa America with Argentina and leaving Barca.

Despite that, he finished his debut season in France as a Ligue 1 champion with PSG – and was the second highest provider of assists in the championship, with 14, and his team’s second highest scorer in the Champions League, with five goals.

In the months of the 2022/23 season preceding the World Cup, he was also second in the combined table of goals and assists in the Champions League (four goals, four assists), proving his great influence on the PSG team.

Moreover, he scored the first goal in PSG’s crushing victory over Nantes to win the French Super Cup, and in the 13 league matches he played he scored seven goals and made 10 assists to consolidate the position of the Parc des Princes club at the top of the French championship.