Manuel Akanji gives verdict on Man City teammate Erling Haaland’s Ballon d’Or snub

Haaland came a close second in the 2023 awards behind Lionel Messi, who was voted the world&aposs best player after helping Argentina to win the World Cup in Qatar. The Norwegian may have felt unfortunate not to have won, having netted an incredible 52 goals last season as City won a historic treble.

At 23 years old, there will be plenty of future opportunities for Haaland to win the famous trophy and he is expected to battle Kylian Mbappe over the next decade. But while Akanji hopes to see his teammate reach the top, he believes major honours at City are more of a priority.

“He did everything he could last year,” Akanji told ESPN. “He&aposs scored 50 goals and won the treble.

“Of course, it would have been nice for him to win but it&aposs not just about that. I think he cares more about the team&aposs success than the individual ones but I hope for him that he will win it one day.”

It says much about Haaland&aposs debut campaign that the City striker is considered to be struggling in front of goal this season, with 15 goals in 17 appearances across all competitions. He was on hand with a brilliant brace on Tuesday as Pep Guardiola&aposs side beat BSC Young Boys 3-0 in the Champions League.

Akanji followed Haaland in moving from Borussia Dortmund to City last summer and has seen the striker&aposs hard work behind the scenes both in Germany and England.

“You can see it in every game we play in, he scores so many important goals,” Akanji added. “He&aposs a great player and I love him as a person as well.

“We&aposve spent a lot of time together at Dortmund and he came here and then I joined him. You can also see in training that he works really hard to get better. Every day, he never takes it easy.

“Even if it&aposs shooting from two metres out, he wants to score every goal and that&aposs also what you get at the weekend. Sometimes he misses chances and he&aposs really frustrated but he goes again and scores with the next one. He&aposs a really important player for our team.”