Chelsea legend Frank Leboeuf says Lionel Messi shouldn’t win this year’s Ballon d’Or because he was sent off for Barcelona in January. Messi is favourite to land the award for a staggering seventh time.
Leboeuf has drawn comparisons with his former France team-mate Zinedine Zidane, who failed to win the individual accolade on two occasions after being sent off in the lead-up to the winner being announced.
Zidane was in the running to win the Ballon d’Or in 2000 but was overlooked after being sent off twice for Juventus in the space of three weeks.
The playmaker was given his marching orders in a 1-1 Champions League draw with Deportivo La Coruna in October 2000.
He was then dismissed once again in the Italian side’s 3-1 defeat to Panathinaikos in the November as Juventus went crashing out of the Champions League at the group stages.
Six years later, his misdemeanour was played out on the global stage as Zidane unceremoniously brought the curtain down on his illustrious playing career by headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final.
A frustrated Messi struck out at Asier Villalibre in the final minute of extra time on that occasion.
If Messi doesn’t win this year’s Ballon d’Or, he can at least console himself in the knowledge that he already possesses more of them than any other player in the history of football.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one behind his rival after winning the award five times – but the Manchester United forward is a rank outsider to win the trophy this year.
Zidane, meanwhile, won the honour in 1998 after starring for France during their run to World Cup triumph.
The former Real Madrid manager scored two headers as Les Bleus defeated Brazil 3-0 in the final on home soil.
This year’s Ballon d’Or ceremony takes place in Paris on November 29.