Samuel Eto’o has the makings of a soothsayer. Not so long ago, the Barcelona legend while saying he believed Argentina talisman Lionel Messi presently stood head and shoulders above the rest in world football, also predicted his ‘little brother’ will lift the Ballon d’Or for a record seventh time.
What Eto’o foresaw, turned into reality in Paris on Monday evening as Messi lifted the coveted golden ball, edging Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski by 33 votes. Even as it sparked off debates on who was more deserving of what is regarded as the most prestigious individual award for male footballers, Eto’o said the decision of the voters had to be respected.
“Football is all about opinion… Right now, I think it is fair that Leo Messi has won because he is the best player in the world,” he asserted.
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Eto’o, now a Qatar Legacy Ambassador, went on to add that one would not have to look far beyond the Paris Saint-Germain FC dressing room to find Messi and Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo’s successor as a serial Ballon d’Or magnet.
“[Kylian] Mbappé is there, he is on the line! He has arrived at a good time in football, where Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi, two football gods, are coming to the end of their careers. Mbappé is just getting started. So, I hope and wish that he will be one of the greatest players in the next 10-15 years. He has everything going for him,” he said.
(The writer is in Qatar at the invitation of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)