Paris Saint-Germain star Lionel Messi named Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham among his top three picks for France Football’s Kopa Trophy.
Bellingham, 19, has made his mark as one of Europe’s fastest-rising prospects and enjoyed a stellar run with Dortmund last season.
The England midfielder, who is under contract until 2025, scored six times and registered 14 assists in 44 appearances for Dortmund in the 2021-22 campaign.
And Bellingham’s impressive form has seen him feature regularly under England manager Gareth Southgate ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
The Dortmund star has been heavily linked with Premier League big-hitters Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool, with Bellingham valued at around £81m.
Bellingham in August was named on France Football’s 10-man shortlist for the Kopa Trophy alongside the likes of Arsenal star Bukayo Saka and Barcelona starlet Gavi.
The winner of the Kopa Trophy, which was introduced in 2018, is determined by the votes of former Ballon d’Or winners.
The 35-year-old Argentina forward picked PSG teammate Nuno Mendes as his second choice, with former Barcelona teammate Gavi earning Messi’s top spot.
Gavi followed in the footsteps of Barcelona teammate Pedri by lifting the Kopa Trophy at France Football’s Ballon d’Or ceremony earlier this month.
The 18-year-old Barcelona midfielder secured 59 points in the voting, putting him clear of second-place Eduardo Camavinga (51) and third-place Jamal Musiala (47).
Sport also revealed that Bellingham received third-place votes from Ballon d’Or winners Rivaldo, Jean-Pierre Papin and Luis Suarez.
Kaka and Lothar Matthaus placed Bellingham second in their respective picks, while Michael Owen, Matthias Sammer and Zinedine Zidane named him the top pick for the Kopa Trophy.
Karim Benzema was the big winner at the Ballon d’Or ceremony, with the Real Madrid striker scooping France Football’s sought-after prize in convincing fashion.
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