Messi, Haaland both deserve to win Ballon d’Or – Guardiola

Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland both deserve to win the Ballon d’Or, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Messi captained Argentina to triumph at the World Cup in Qatar while Haaland scored 52 goals in 53 games to help City win a Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble.

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Messi and Haaland are the two favourites for the award which will be announced at a ceremony on Oct. 30 and Guardiola said both players deserve to win.

“Always I said the Ballon d’Or should be in two sections; one for Messi, then after another one so Haaland should win, yes,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday.

“We won the treble, he scored a million goals. The worst season for Messi is the best for the rest of the players. Both deserve it. Realistically I want Haaland to have it cause he helped us achieve what we achieved, I would love it. But Messi won the World Cup.”

Haaland scored twice for Norway in a 4-0 win over Cyprus during the international break and Guardiola will hope it triggers a return to form with City after going three club games without a goal.

Brighton are the visitors to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and Guardiola said John Stones is available, despite concerns about the defender featuring in both England‘s internationals during the break after being restricted to just one substitute appearance for City so far this season.

“We were a little bit concerned,” Guardiola added. “We spoke with Gareth [Southgate], we have an incredible relationship. We were concerned because Stones didn’t play one minute in the last two months and then played for the national team. He was so important and we could not use him.

“We’re happy he got minutes but what if he gets injured? So he plays some minutes and comes off. They love to play for their countries, and I never say not to go there. Thankfully everything was right and he’s ready for the next games.”

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