David Alaba has been forced to explain voting for Lionel Messi ahead of Karim Benzema in the FIFA Best poll after being abused by Real Madrid fans.
The Austria international was, as captain of his country, part of the process that resulted in seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi being named FIFA Best men’s player of the year for a second time.
Alaba selected the mercurial Argentina with his top pick, before placing Madrid team-mate Benzema second and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe third, and has been subjected to vile taunts on social media in the wake of those selections being revealed – while #AlabaOut was also trending at one stage.
Alaba has delivered a defiant response to those critics on Instagram, saying: “Regarding FIFA The Best Award: The Austrian national team vote for this award as a team, not me alone. Everyone in the team council is able to vote and that’s how it’s decided. Everyone knows, especially Karim, how much I admire him and his performances and I have often said that for me he is the best striker in the world, and that is still the case. Without doubt.”
and I have often said that for me he is the best striker in the world, and that is still the case. Without doubt.
— David Alaba (@David_Alaba) February 28, 2023
Alaba has spent the last 18 months working alongside Benzema at Santiago Bernabeu, having joined Real in 2021 after leaving Bayern Munich as a free agent, and helped the Blancos to La Liga and Champions League crowns during his debut campaign in Spain.
Benzema is the current holder of the prestigious Ballon d’Or prize, but was beaten to the FIFA Best gong after seeing PSG forward Messi inspire Argentina to World Cup glory at Qatar 2022.