• Primera Liga

Messi would swap Ballon d'Or for World Cup

ESPN staff
January 9, 2013

Four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi says the one thing missing from his trophy cabinet is the World Cup, claiming he would swap his personal awards for success at national team level with Argentina.

The Barcelona star claimed his most recent accolade this week, capping a stunning year which saw him score a record 91 goals in 2012.

However, with the World Cup in neighbouring Brazil looming, the Argentina forward has declared his focus is now on winning the world's biggest international tournament in 2014.

"Winning the World Cup is what is missing," Messi is quoted as saying in the Sun. "The truth is, yes, I would swap a Ballon d'Or for the World Cup, I've always felt like that. Nothing compares with being world champion.

"I want to achieve things with Barcelona and with my country, which I've always said is my dream."

Messi has garnered comparisons to compatriot Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to their last World Cup triumph in 1986. The 25-year-old insists such expectations - including criticism of his performances for La Albiceleste - in his homeland do not weigh on his mind, as Alejandro Sabella's men currently sit atop the South American standings for qualification.

"It makes me so happy that many important people talk well of me," he explained. "Each year my objective is to grow, not to stay with what I have. As for what I don't know, I want to try and learn and get better.

"Last year I was welcomed back home in a spectacular way because the people are now behind the national team. It had been a long time that this chemistry had been lost and I am happy we finished the year so well.

"We are working hard to give the people of Argentina the best, and many joys. Today, you can see the unity. That makes Argentina stronger.

"To see people talking well of the national team is different to see criticism from everywhere before you even set foot back. That hurts."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.