The women’s Ballon d’Or remained in Barcelona as Aitana Bonmati was the 2023 recipient, winning her first Ballon d’Or, a culmination of an amazing season for the midfielder.
If there was any argument for the men’s side, there certainly wasn’t for the women’s.
Bonmati was the runaway winner in a season where she won the league and Champions League with Barcelona and then went on to win the 2023 World Cup with Spain.
“I want to congratulate all the nominees. All of them are great and inspiring footballers. As role models we have a responsibility on and off the pitch. We should be more than athletes. Keep leading by example and keep fighting together for a better, peaceful and equal world,” Bonmati said.
She joins teammate Alexia Putellas as the two Barcelona players to win the award, marking the third season in a row where a Barcelona player wins the Ballon d’Or.
In the absence of Putellas, Bonmatí stepped up last season, stepping up when needed, delivering assists and scoring important goals.
“I’m a bit on cloud nine. It reminds me of watching the ceremony on TV when I was little,” Bonmati said. “It makes me proud to know I am a reference for the new generations. We’ve had a tough year. It’s about time we were able to focus on football.
“I could not imagine being here when I used to see Messi lift the Ballon d’Or at this gala, and today I am the one collecting this award. The fact that Alexia Putellas and I can be a reference for the next generations, boys and girls, is a source of pride.”
If Bonmati winning the award wasn’t a sense of pride for Barcelona supporters, the fact that Lionel Messi won his eighth made it even better.
Bonmatí and the current Inter Miami star shared the spotlight at the end of the gala, both taking pictures with their awards.
Bonmati’s win was the cherry on top for Barcelona who had a heavy presence at the ceremony, with Barça Femeni taking home the Best Team of the Year award. Manager Jonatan Giraldez and Patri Guijarro accepted the award alongside president Joan Laporta.
Two of the three finalists for the women’s Ballon d’Or were Barcelona players with Salma Paralluelo coming in third.
It was a successful night on an individual and collective level, recognizing a number of players who had played a significant role in the club’s success.
For another year, the Ballon d’Or stays in Barcelona. With Barça Femeni the favorites in the league and one of the favorites in the Champions League, it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility to see another Blaugrana players lifting the trophy once again come this time next year.