‘Finished article’ – Why Erling Haaland will struggle to beat Lionel Messi in Ballon d’Or vote as Richard Dunne talks up future GOAT rivalry with Kylian Mbappe

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Lionel Messi Erling Haaland
Erling Haaland has been “untouchable” for Man City but will struggle to beat “finished article” Lionel Messi to the Ballon d’Or, says Richard Dunne.

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  • Norwegian striker helped to land treble
  • Argentine icon savoured World Cup glory
  • French superstar continues to sparkle


    The Norwegian striker was a revelation for City last season on the back of his £51 million ($63m) transfer from Borussia Dortmund. Haaland hit 52 goals across all competitions, helping himself to the English top-flight Golden Boot and his club to a historic Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.



    Those efforts are considered to have Haaland battling it out with 2022 World Cup winner Messi for the title of best player on the planet, with former City captain Dunne – speaking in association with OLBG – telling GOAL when asked if the prolific 23-year-old can pip a man with seven Golden Balls to the most prestigious of individual prizes: “From a numbers point of view, he's been untouchable, he's been the difference to Man City. If you look back and think about what they were missing in terms of going on and winning the Champions League, it probably was the natural number nine. I know he didn't score in the later stages of the competition, but he just causes trouble and forces players to mark him, they might even need two of them, he creates spaces in other areas. Whatever the Ballon d’Or is judged on, I obviously think Messi is the more complete footballer, he is the finished article. Haaland has things he needs to improve on, even as good as he is. He could still be better outside the box and getting more involved in games, but if you're looking at out-and-out goal-scorers there is nobody in the world who can touch Haaland.”


    Whatever happens in 2023, Haaland appears destined to become a superstar of the world game. He is expected to battle it out with Paris Saint-Germain sensation Kylian Mbappe for future Ballons d’Or, with Dunne saying of a rivalry that could emulate the one enjoyed by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo: “I hope we can get that rivalry again of two or three top players in the world. I think Haaland is on the road to becoming a superstar. Mbappe needs to settle down somewhere and find a club that suits him, the transfer rumours don't help him. I think the levels he can reach are extremely high and the speed he has is incredible, but sometimes you watch him and wonder if he's happy or interested. Is it a long-term thing at PSG or does he need to move on to another club? When we work that out, I think we might start to see the best of him.”



    Haaland has already netted seven times through as many appearances for City this season – adding a UEFA Super Cup winners’ medal to his collection – while Mbappe, who spent much of the summer being linked with a transfer to Real Madrid, has netted seven times through just four outings at PSG.