Hristo Stoichkov, the former Barcelona forward, is known for his outspoken nature, and this was no different when questioned during an interview about his stance on Jude Bellingham winning the Golden Boy 2023 Award.
The five-time La Liga winner argued that Bellingham did nothing to warrant this honour and since Gavi was not eligible, the likes of Jamal Musiala or Alejandro Balde deserved it more than the Madrid midfielder.
“Since Gavi was not eligible by regulation, the award should have been given to Musiala or Balde,” he said, as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.
Bellingham has a bright future, but 2023 wasn’t his year
Stoichkov said that Bellingham is someone who he sees as a mix of [Michael] Laudrup, Kaka, and Paul Pogba, but he had nothing to show for in the year 2023 to be deserving of the honour.
“I do not dispute Bellingham’s value. He is one of the strongest talents in the world: he has a lot of class and a lot of brain. For me, he is a mix between Laudrup, Kaka, and Paul Pogba,” he said.
He added that the future does belong to Bellingham and he will indeed fight for the prestigious Ballon d’Or, but this certainly wasn’t his year.
“The future is his. He will fight with [Kylian] Mbappe and [Erling] Haaland for the next Ballon d’Or, but I would like to know what he won in 2023 between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid. Nothing.”
Supporting his claim, he gave the example of Bayern Munich’s triumphant campaign last season, a race that went right to the wire. On the final matchday, Borussia Dortmund needed to win and so did Bayern Munich.
While the latter got what they wanted, Dortmund could only salvage a draw, meaning that the title was won by the Bavarians on goal difference.
“What success have all these goals brought to Real Madrid? You know well what my friend [Jose] Mourinho would say about the ‘titles’. Shall we talk then about how the last Bundesliga ended?
“Borussia Dortmund had a two-point lead over Bayern when there were 90 minutes left in the championship. They were playing at home against Mainz, while the Bavarians were in Cologne.
“What happened with five minutes left? [Thomas] Tuchel introduced Musiala, who in the final stretch scored the 3- 2 for Bayern while Borussia did not go beyond a 2-2 draw at home and goodbye to the title due to goal difference,” he argued.
Official: Real Madrid starting lineup against Napoli | UCL GW 5
Real Madrid are back in the Champions League following their impressive win against Cadiz on the weekend as they host Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu for gameweek five.
They have already secured qualification to the round of 16, and even a point today would secure first place in the group.
With several players still injured, Carlo Ancelotti has opted for his best available starting lineup, with Daniel Carvajal taking responsibility of the captain’s armband at right-back. He will be aided by Ferland Mendy, who starts on the other side.
Meanwhile, in between them, David Alaba returns to the fold as the starting centre-back, partnering Antonio Rudiger. This duo has the responsibility of screening Andriy Lunin, who continues in goal in Kepa and Thibaut Courtois’ absence.
With both Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni out, Toni Kroos gets the chance to play as the holding midfielder for two games in a row. Federico Valverde retains his spot, as well, while Dani Ceballos comes in for the injured Luka Modric in central midfield.
Rodrygo will spearhead the team’s frontline as one of the two twin forwards, while Brahim Diaz gets the nod over Joselu. Jude Bellingham is the final, and arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, playing behind the front-two.
Confirmed Madrid XI: Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos; Bellingham; Diaz, Rodrygo