BALLON D’OR: “I’m taking Erling Haaland!”.

Erling Haaland is pitted against Lionel Messi by Alexi Lalas and Stuart Holden in a contentious Ballon d’Or discussion, declaring, “I’m taking Erling Haaland!”.

Stuart Holden and Alexi Lalas got into a fight over which player should win the Ballon d’Or next month.

Haaland and Messi are the favorites to win the USMNT players debate award at the ceremony in October.

WHAT HAPPENED: On a recent episode of Lalas’ State of the Union podcast, the ex-USMNT players gushed over Messi and Haaland.

After the Ballon d’Or shortlist was announced earlier this week, they diverged on who should receive football’s highest individual honor, though.

WHAT THEY SAID: Lalas was confident that Haaland had had the better year all around, stating: “I’d take Haaland.

Holden at first agreed, but later changed his mind and voted for Messi to win the Ballon d’Or: “You throw Messi into Man City, they’re going to win everything and Messi’s gonna score 50+ goals! I’m changing my mind, I’m taking Messi!” This is about the best player in this era, and how is it possible that when given the choice between Haaland and Messi, you’re not taking the quote-unquote best player?

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The World Cup-winning captain of Argentina and the Premier League Golden Boot winner are the two front-runners for the award, but opinions are split, as Lalas’ podcast demonstrates.

The Man City striker was even advised by ESPN’s Craig Burley to “never go back” to the “claptrap” awards if Messi is declared the winner.

Though Haaland’s country didn’t even make it to the tournament, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner may be in the lead given his stellar World Cup 2022 campaign.

The Ballon d’Or 2023 is scheduled to take place in Paris on October 30, so we’ll find out who won the award shortly after the announcement of the nominees. Messi, Haaland, or a different candidate entirely?

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