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5 Ballon d'Or winners who made wrong transfer decisions

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of several Ballon d'Or winners who made a wrong transfer move.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of several Ballon d'Or winners who made a wrong transfer move.
Sanstab Das
ANALYST

The Ballon d'Or remains the highest individual accolade in the world of football, with some of the sport's biggest names having been bestowed with the honour. That includes the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldo Nazario and Zinedine Zidane, who made us fall in love with the beautiful game.

Ballon d'Or winners, some of the best footballers in history, have represented some of the biggest clubs in world football. While the jury is still out on Lionel Messi's move to PSG, Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid was arguably the most crucial transfer of his career.

The Portuguese won four Ballon d'Or accolades during his time in Madrid. The same, though, cannot be said of his 2018 summer move to Juventus. On that note, here's a look at the five Ballon d'Or winners who made wrong transfer decisions.


#5 Michael Owen to Real Madrid

Michael Owen (right) struggled in his season-long stint at Real Madrid
Michael Owen (right) struggled in his season-long stint at Real Madrid

Once regarded as the 'Golden Boy' of English football, Michael Owen endured a fall from grace during his time in the Spanish capital.

Owen rose to prominence in international football with a stunning solo goal against Argentina at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He carried on his excellent form at his boyhood club Liverpool, where he notched up a stunning tally of 158 goals and 49 assists in 297 appearances. Owen was at the peak of his powers in the early 2000s, winning the Ballon d'Or award in 2001 following a mini-continental treble (UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup) with Liverpool.

The Englishman earned a move to Real Madrid in 2004, and there were big expectations from him. However, the move didn't pan out according to the script.

The Ballon d'Or winner could never adapt to the rigours of Spanish football, and was shipped out to Newcastle United after just one season in Madrid. The Englishman could only manage a return of 16 goals in 45 appearances at the Bernabeu.

Owen's struggles in Spain seemed to have diminished his confidence, and he was never the same Ballon d'Or-winning player again.


#4 Ronaldinho to AC Milan

Ronaldinho Gaucho won the Ballon d'Or award in 2005.
Ronaldinho Gaucho won the Ballon d'Or award in 2005.

Ronaldinho will always have his name etched in Barcelona's folklore, but he dramatically fell off the pace after his move to AC Milan.

A major contributor to his drop-off has been his lavish lifestyle, along with several fitness and injury issues. In his younger days, Ronaldinho's extraordinary talent and abilities made him one of football's greatest-ever, papering over concerns about his fitness.

In an interview with SFR Sport, Ronaldinho's former PSG teammate Jerome Leroy said:

"Ronaldinho did not train at all on any day of the week. He would just turn up on the Friday for a game on the Saturday."

He added:

"In the mornings, Ronaldinho would turn up in sunglasses. He would get dressed, and go directly to the massage rooms to sleep."

That did not stop Ronaldinho from winning the Ballon d'Or award in 2005, and he is also a two-time winner of The Best FIFA Men's Player accolade. However, the Brazilian lasted only three years at AC Milan, making 95 appearances for the club.

In an earlier interview, then-AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti said:

"The decline of Ronaldinho hasn't surprised me. His physical condition has always been very precarious. His talent, though, has never been in question."
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Edited by Bhargav
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