The Golden ball has released their shortlist of players of which one will be chosen as the undisputed best player for this past year. Yet, as it’s been the case for a couple of years now, the shortlist raised more questions than provided answers.
The list, which is chosen by France Football Magazine, has always had its critics although as of late, it has attracted more widespread criticism than ever before. Many people believed that last year’s edition should’ve been awarded to Wesley Sneijder who not only won the Champions League, but also made it to the World Cup final being the competition’s top scorer with five goals, only to miss out on this glorious feat by Andreas Iniesta’s goal.
To make things a bit worse, not only was he not included in the 23-list, he was not beaten to this award by one of his Spanish counterparts. Rather, it was Lionel Messi who –arguably- undeservedly won that award. For a player who didn’t win a major silverware in that particular season – La Liga apart- it came as an eyebrow-raising shock to see him among the final three nominees for the award, let alone ending up as the sole winner.
In a World Cup year, the tradition has been to award this trophy to a player who dazzled fans and opponents in that particular tournament as it’s considered the biggest stages of all. We’ve seen players like Ronaldinho in the past – who won all he could on a club level in 2006 – being beaten by a Fabio Cannavaro who did nothing but step it up on the biggest stages of all; the World Cup.
Well, that’s all in the past now. But one thing France Football could’ve done this year to redeem itself was launch the 23 player list based on merit, and once again, it failed miserably.
There seems to be some kind of a bias towards La Liga and in its players. No one argues against Messi deserving this year’s award –leading his Barcelona team to Champions League glory- or Spain’s players being the best in the world having been crowned with almost all silverware available for them, collectively at least. Individually, it’s been a completely different case however.
Starting with Cesc Fabregas who not only was injured for the most part of this year, but couldn’t lead his arsenal team to a simple Carling Cup victory has questioned the credibility of this award, raising questions on the basis for which players are selected. Players like Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Aguero, who have not had any silverware attached to their names, have arguably taken the place of other winners that simply can’t but wonder what more could they do to get selected. Ibrahimovic has aided his Milan team to their first league title since 2004 in his first year in black and red, while Falcão led his Porto team to Europa League glory beating the record of most goals scored in a single season -since Klinsmann held the honor- scoring 17 goals on his way to glory.
Edison Cavani and the under-rated Toto Di Natale have both –unexpectedly- fired their teams in the Champions League, ripping Italy’s nets consistently only for their efforts to go unnoticed. Bundesliga winners Borussia Dortmund haven’t been represented by a single player, while household names like Ribery and Robben –although expectedly- didn’t find space either. Mario Gomez’s consistency both with Germany and Bayern Munich have also been overlooked, along with the 16 goals he’s banged this season.
Turning our attention to the EPL, two players in the form of Tevez and Van Persie have undeservedly missed out. The former who topped the scoring charts in league action with 20 goals, also led his Manchester City team to their first silverware in 35 years, in the form of the FA Cup. Van Persie on the other hand, has scored 28 goals in his last 27 League matches to lift his Arsenal side among all the darkness that surrounded his club in the aftermath of selling Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
One could argue that the list can’t be compromised of attackers alone, yet when we fully analyze the list we find that defenders like Tiago Silva – Serie A’s best defender of late- and Vincent Kompany who has steadied Man City’s backline have been ignored in favor of Dani Alvez and Eric Abidal; two players who have added very little to a team composed of champions like Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta.
Whichever way you look at it, France Football and Fifa have a lot of justifying to do. Having overlooked players time and time again, it’s time for them to clarify the basis on which their lists are chosen or the Golden Ball continues its decline and its incredibility in the eyes of the football world as a whole.