On 13 January 2014 Fifa will reveal the winner of Ballon d’Or prize. Frank Ribery , Cristiano Ronaldo  and Lionel Messi  are the three finalists, but for the first time since 2009 the award may not end in the Argentinean's showcase.
2013 has not been a great year for Messi. Not only because he won’t probably win again the prestigious award, but for all the problems he has had to face throughout the last twelve months.
Injuries and tiredness
First of all, he missed quite a lot of games through injuries, with the latest that has kept Messi away from playing since 10 November . Until then he had already netted 14 times in as many games , though in the new season his standards were not as great as before.
Messi has often looked tired and some of his muscular problems could come from lack of rest. In summer, instead of having a break, he featured in many friendlies and in hindsight that was a bad choice, especially before a demanding season that will end with the World Cup.
Nevertheless, there are further matters that have concerned the Argentinean superstar like the allegation of tax evasion claims that he and his father faced in court last September. That may not involve directly the player –he probably leaves to someone else that kind of business – but of course it casts a shadow on his public image, especially for those people used to see Messi just as an immaculate footballer. However, trouble did not end there.
Arguments with the club
The recent polemic with Barcelona’s board member Javier Faus, who is head of the economic and strategic area at the Catalan club, showed a different side of Messi. Usually placid off the pitch, his outburst surprised everyone.
"Faus doesn't know anything about football and wants to manage Barcelona like a business company, which it is not. Barcelona is one of the best clubs in the world, and deserves to be represented by the best managers too. Besides, I would remind him that neither I nor anyone around me has requested any wage increase and he knows it very well," said Messi to RAC1 radio last week.
Although Messi said differently , is presumably a pay rise that caused the discussion. The reason? As simple as expected : Neymar earns more than him.
Could that words create a rift between Messi and the club? It is hard to say so but it is also true that in Barcelona no one is more important than the club. Not even the most outstanding stars- as seen at the time of Ronaldinho’s departure. And a careful and malicious reader could also interpret the polemic with Faus just as a criticism towards Sandro Rosell’s management.
But with Messi – whose contract expires in 2018 – the club may have a different approach. He comes from La Masia, the famous academy, and he is Barcelonista in the same manner his fellow mates Iniesta, Xavi, Pique and Puyol all are. After all, he is still the best footballer in the world, therefore it is difficult to image him donning a different shirt and playing in another stadium than Camp Nou.
A new contract on the horizon
Despite Faus’s words ( “We cannot improve a contract every six months” ), Barcelona seem to take the matter seriously and they are planning to sort out the issue as soon as possible.
“He [Messi] is the best player in the world and he has to be the highest paid too,” declared Joseph Maria Bartomeu, the vice-president of Barcelona, adding that the club, shortly after the Christmas holidays, will work on adjusting the contract of the Argentinean ace. That would be the seventh time that Barça update it in eight years.
If 2013 has not been a great year for the Argentinean, 2014 will certainly come with some good news. Messi is expected to be back in action in January and by then he will probably have a pay rise. Happier, richer and finally in good form, he will aim to keep Barça at the top of domestic tournament and fight for another European trophy. But above all else he wants to be at his best in June and win the World Cup with Argentina. That could be his greatest year. Just after the worst one.