Rafael Nadal insists Lionel Messi should win award ahead of him

Rafael Nadal Credit: Alamy
Rafael Nadal Credit: Alamy

Rafael Nadal believes that Lionel Messi should be handed the 2023 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award.

Nadal has been nominated alongside the FIFA World Cup-winning captain of Argentina.

The Spaniard believes that his achievements in the last year have been dwarfed by those of the former Barcelona superstar.

Nadal said that while it was an honour to be nominated he felt there could only be one winner this year and that was Messi.

“An honour to be nominated again to the Laureus Sportsman of the Year…but…this year…vamos @leomessi te lo mereces tu [Come on Lionel Messi you deserve it],” wrote Nadal on Instagram.

Nadal previously said that the look in Messi’s eyes when he scored in the final was something that any sportsman could relate to.

“That someone so great reaches the culmination with a title that was missing, of this calibre, with all that it means for Argentina, it seemed fair to me, I enjoyed it and I was moved,” he told AS last December.

“Without supporting Argentina, when Messi scored the third goal, tears came to my eyes, because of the emotion of seeing someone so great achieve what they were missing and someone who had suffered so much to achieve it.”

Nadal’s return to action on the ATP Tour is still hanging in the air after he cancelled a scheduled exhibition match against compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.

The match was set to take place in Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Arena on 5 March.

“I am very sad for not being able to come to Vegas and play in this amazing event with Carlos at the MGM Grand Garden Arena,” said Nadal.

“Unfortunately, the timing of my recovery doesn’t make it possible to be there ready to play.”

Nadal was a finalist at Indian Wells last season but now looks an unlikely starter for the event which is closely followed by the Miami Open.

The Spaniard was plague by a chronic foot problem in the early part of the 2022 season but a niggly abdominal injury has dogged hism since the US Open swing.

Despite those troubles, Nadal still won two of the four Grand Slams in 2022, claiming the Australian Open and Roland Garros titles to move to 22 Majors in total and hold the men’s all-time record alone until he was hauled in by Novak Djokovic at this season’s Melbourne Park event.

The other nominees for the award are French football star Kylian Mbappe, Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen, Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and NBA superstar Steph Curry.

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