Lionel Messi is no stranger to widespread plaudits, but even he may have been surprised by the identities of some of the newspapers celebrating his fifth Ballon d’Or triumph.
Madrid-based publications Marca and AS tend to focus on Barcelona’s rivals Real Madrid rather than Messi’s achievements – but even for them there was no ignoring the top story on Tuesday.
The Argentine star was named the world’s best player for a fifth time in seven years with a 41.3 per cent of the vote ahead of Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca team-mate Neymar.
AS led with that percentage, adding that it was a ‘fifth Ballon d’Or for an eternal player’ while giving a Real hint with the winner’s quote: ‘It’s special, it’s been two years watching Cristiano win.’
Marca’s headline is ‘Leo V’, recognising how: ‘The Argentine reigns in the stratosphere of football with fifth Ballon d’Or’. Again, there is a Madrid touch to the story, with the back of Ronaldo’s head shown as he congratulates his rival.
Unsurprisingly, Messi was the lead story for Catalan papers SPORT and Mundo Deportivo, who both focused on the word ‘oro’, or ‘gold’, in their coverage.
In France, the 28-year-old is seen in a more relaxed manner on the front of L’Equipe alongside the five awards he has picked up in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
While the Zurich ceremony also got coverage in the English papers, there was a blow for fans who harbour hopes of seeing the world’s best player in the Barclays Premier League.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United have all been linked with moves for Messi in the past, but he says he has no intention of leaving Barca even later in his phenomenal career.

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