8 players who could have won the Ballon d'Or in the last 8 years
It's fair to say that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated European football for a decade now. Competing directly against each other in La Liga, they have also fought it out each year for individual honors.
As it currently stands, they both have 5 Ballon d'Or awards apiece, a remarkable record. As the saying goes, Kaka was the last human player to win be crowned the best player of the year; Ronaldo and Messi just can't be from the same planet as other mere mortals.
Some of their wins have been contentious, however. There are many, including retired Bayern Munich legend Phillip Lahm who have claimed that the award is only given to the best striker who scores the most goals, and it's true that those who play further back on the pitch are never represented as much.
There have also been years where there has been much support for an outsider, like when Wesley Sneijder guided his national team, the Netherlands to the World Cup final after winning the Champions League with his club Inter Milan in 2010.
It's interesting therefore to consider how minus Ronaldo & Messi, the players who would have won the Ballon in the last 7 years.
It certainly wouldn't have been as consistently awarded to the same individual, as this slideshow will highlight.
#8 Wesley Sneijder (2010)
As mentioned in the introduction, Wesley Sneijder had by far his best year in 2010. After a disappointing 2 year spell at Real Madrid, it all came together for the playmaker upon arrival at the San Siro. Sneijder clearly thrived on being the main man instead of a supporting player and his full talents were finally realized.
By the end of the 2009/2010 season, he had helped Inter Milan secure a historic treble, including a 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. In a defensively-minded and compact team dictated by Jose Mourinho, it was on Sneijder's shoulders to run the midfield, getting into space, running with the ball at the opposition, and combining with strikers Samuel Eto'o and Diego Milito; indeed, a big part of their success that season was down to the above 3's intuitive play.
The Dutchman carried his great form into the summer's World Cup tournament. Man of the match performances in the quarterfinals and semi-finals against Brazil and Uruguay respectively took Holland to a surprise final place against Spain, where they were unlucky to lose out by an Andres Iniesta extra-time goal.
It's interesting that after 2010 Sneijder never reached these heights again, playing well but not to the same high level in Turkish football with Galatasaray. This makes his world-class 2009-2010 season all the more special: an example of an individual taking almost sole responsibility for his teams attacking abilities and succeeding immensely.