Toni Kroos, Real Madrid’s midfielder, and Iker Casillas, club legend have been critical of Lionel Messi’s decision to award him this year’s Ballon d’Or. The German claimed that it was ‘absolutely not deserved’.

To win the seventh Ballon d’Or in his remarkable career, Paris Saint-Germain’s forward defeated competition from Robert Lewandowski (Bayer Munich) and Jorginho (Chelsea). 

Messi was awarded the Copa America Maiden Title in 2021.

Toni Kroos and Iker Casillas led criticism of the decision to hand Lionel Messi the Ballon d'Or

Toni Kroos & Iker Kasillas led the criticism against Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Or award.

Kroos was critical of the decision to hand Messi the prize, saying it's 'absolutely not deserved'

Kroos took issue with Messi being awarded the prize and said that it was ‘absolutely undeserved’

Barca’s 34-year old player also won Copa del Rey, before he moved to PSG in the summer on a transfer for free.

He had collected the honour for a record sixth time in 2019 – one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo – before the awards were cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After his incredible goalscoring form, many expected Lewandowski’s winner to be awarded the prize. 

After scoring 38 goals for Bayern in the league, and winning the Bundesliga in 2021, the 33-year old Poland international finished second. 

Kroos was adamantly critical of Messi’s choice, and then he revealed who he voted to in his top 3.

Speaking on his podcast, Kroos said: ‘It’s absolutely not deserved. 

“There’s no question that Messi and Cristiano have been the best players of the past decade. But this year, there ought to’ve been other great players.”

Casillas also insisted it's 'not that hard' to know there were other players more deserving of it

Casillas said that it was not difficult to recognize other worthy players.

Kroos claimed that the Real Madrid teammate KarimBenzema, Lewandowski, as well as Jorginho were his top three choices.

Iker Casillas (the legendary goalkeeper for Real Madrid who had many spectacular battles against Messi throughout his career) also acknowledged that the PSG player should not have been awarded the award. 

The Spaniard added: ‘It is increasingly difficult for me to believe in football awards. 

“Messi is a great player, but it is important to identify the outstanding player at the end of each season. It isn’t difficult.

Messi acknowledged Lewandowski’s accomplishments over the last two years, and stated that he deserved the award. 

Messi said: ‘You deserve your Ballon d’Or. You were the winner last year, according to everyone. 

‘I believe France Football should award you your Ballon d’Or. It must be in your home. 

Messi was not the only one to be criticized. Match of the Day host Gary Lineker called him a magnificent Seven’ and called him a ‘truly exceptional footballer.

The former England and Barcelona striker tweeted: ‘It’s a magnificent seven. Congratulations to Lionel Messi on winning yet another Ballon d’Or. 

“An extraordinary player and a credit to the game on both the field and off it.”

But football fans weren’t satisfied with Messi being named the winner. Many on social media suggested that Lewandowski, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah or both should have won. 

@KevCawood commented: “I think he winning this time it shows how ridiculously absurd the award is. Lewandowski & Salah were head and shoulders over Messi this past year.

Messi claimed a maiden Copa America title with his country during 2021 and was also top scorer in LaLiga for the 2020-21 season

Messi was awarded the Copa America Title for his Country in 2021. He also won the LaLiga title for the 2020-21 season.

@redikki also agreed and posted: “Wonderful footballer. Perhaps the greatest ever. @francefootball for shaking up the voting. What is the point of #Lewandowski scoring so many goals during 24 months? And not being recognised for it! This award is not over! 

@CalumClark13 said: “Joke of Decision, I know you’re a Barca man, but this year’s suspension stinks of corruption. Both Lewandowski (and Salah) were superior players this year. This has already happened with Messi or Ronaldo when all the hype and name-dropping takes over.    

With his latest success, Messi added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019 trophies. His victory speech wiped out any mention of his retirement.

Messi said Monday night in Paris, “It’s incredible to come back here,”

Two years ago, when I was a teenager, I told my family that this was the end of my life. I also said I was unsure what was coming next. But now, here I am again.

“They began asking me questions about my plans to retire, and I now live in Paris. It is a great feeling to be happy, and I’m excited about the future.

“I don’t know the amount of time I still have, but it is something I want. This is what my heart says. I have won the award before and felt that there was something missing.

“I felt devastated about something. After having suffered many losses and fighting, this year was the year that I finally achieved my dream.

“This award was largely due to what Argentina did at the Copa America.”