Rafael Nadal backs Lionel Messi to win Laureus Sportsman of the Year ahead of him

Tennis legend Rafael Nadal has backed World Cup winner Lionel Messi to land the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award ahead of him.
  • Nadal backs Messi to win sporting award
  • Tennis star won two grand slams in 2022
  • Messi bagged the World Cup with Argentina

WHAT HAPPENED? Nadal enjoyed a stellar 2022 as he won the Australian Open and the French Open to move on to a record-breaking haul of 22 Grand Slams, which Novak Djokovic equalled by winning in Australia himself at the start of 2023. However, the Spaniard still does not think that he deserves to win the prestigious Laureus Sportsman of the Year award over Messi, who helped Argentina pick up their third global crown after defeating France in the World Cup final.

Nadal, who is a well-known Real Madrid fan, took to Instagram after being confirmed among the final nominees and said: "An honour to be nominated again to the Laureus Sportsman of the Year... but... this year...Come on Leo Messi, you deserve it."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Apart from Nadal, Messi is up against fellow Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe, Max Verstappen (F1), Mondo Duplantis (Athletics), Steph Curry (Basketball) and Carlos Alcaraz (Tennis) for the men's award.

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WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? The forward will be back in club action with PSG against Marseille in Ligue 1 on February 26.