Khabib Nurmagomedov believes that either Robert Lewandowski or Karim Benzema, rather than Lionel Messi, deserved to win the Ballon d’Or this year.
The accolade was given to the Paris Saint-Germain talisman at the end of last month, ahead of Lewandowski and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho.
Messi has now won the award seven times, two more than his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is now based in England.
Nurmagomedov, a retired MMA fighter, believes Lewandowski, a Polish striker, should have won the award, citing his incredible 120-goal haul over the last two years.
He noted that he would give the award to one if Lewandoski or Benzema, specifically naming Lewandoski, due to his performance in the last three years.
Despite the fact that many questioned his rating, Messi had another fantastic year for both club and country, helping Argentina win their first major trophy in a long time when they won the Copa America.
The brilliant Argentinian also helped his boyhood club Barcelona win the Copa del Rey for the second time.
After organizers France Football decided to cancel the award last year owing to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, Messi retained his Ballon d’Or trophy, which was last awarded in 2019.
If the trophy had been given last year, Lewandowski would have won it after a fantastic year in which he scored 64 goals across all competitions.