Five players who shouldn't have nominated for the 2018 Ballon d'Or
The Ballon d’Or is considered by many to be the most prestigious individual award in football, and rightly so, as the Golden Ball handed out yearly by Franch magazine L’Equipe since 1956 (apart from 2010-2015 when it was merged with the FIFA Award) has a lot of prestige attached to it, and has been won by some of the most legendary players in history.
When the award was merged to become the FIFA Ballon d’Or, a lot of fans and pundits alike complained about the merger, saying that the award had lost its credibility, as FIFA’s integrity had been compromised, leading to some very questionable awards.
When the award was returned to its original format in 2016, there was wide celebration, as it was believed that the integrity of journalists would ensure sanctity of the award was restored, as the journalists are more likely to vote free of bias.
However, events since then have shown that the journalists are as guilty of prejudice like the rest of us. The Ballon d’Or committee released a list of 30 nominees for the award over the course of the last 36 hours, and the list hasn’t been without its fair share of controversies.
The list in full:
Sergio Aguero (Arg / Manchester City)
Alisson (Bra / Liverpool)
Gareth Bale (Wal / Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (Fra / Real Madrid)
Edinson Cavani (Uru / PSG)
Thibaut Courtois (Bel / Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Por / Juventus)
Kevin De Bruyne (Bel / Manchester City)
Roberto Firmino (Bra / Liverpool)
Diego Godin (Uru / Atletico Madrid)
Antoine Griezmann (Fra / Atletico Madrid)
Eden Hazard (Bel / Chelsea)
Isco (Spa / Real Madrid)
Harry Kane (Eng / Tottenham)
Mario Mandzukic (Cro / Juventus)
N’golo Kante (Fra / Chelsea)
Hugo Lloris (Fra / Tottenham)
Sadio Mane (Sen / Liverpool)
Marcelo (Bra / Real Madrid)
Lionel Messi (Arg / Barcelona)
Luka Modric (Cro / Real Madrid)
Kylian Mbappe (Fra/ PSG)
Neymar (Bra / PSG)
Jan Oblak (Slo / Atletico Madrid)
Paul Pogba (Fra / Manchester United)
Ivan Rakitic (Cro / Barcelona)
Mohammed Salah (Egy / Liverpool)
Luis Suarez (Uru / Barcelona)
Sergio Ramos (Spa / Real Madrid)
Raphael Varane (Fra/ Real Madrid).
The list above shows that the journalist towed the path of least resistance, and this award just like the others is more a list rewarding popularity than a genuine yardstick to measure player performances.
While the list has a bit more credibility than the FIFA’s released in August, and has some worthy luminaries like Cristiano Ronaldo, Rakitic and Kante, the 30-man list is still now without its own shortcomings. Here are five players who should have been nominated for the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
The 26-year-old Brazilian superstar became the most expensive player in history when he traded Barcelona for PSG in a record breaking €220m deal.
He had spent four highly successful years at Nou Camp, and many believed the time was ripe for him to lead his own team, as no matter what he did at Barca, Messi would always be the star of the show, and this was detrimental to his chances of becoming the premier footballer in the world.
PSG on the other hand are a club very much on the rise since their mega money backed takeover by QSI in 2011, and billions have been spent in their quest to become a force in football. Domestic dominance had been attained, with the club winning four of the previous five Ligue 1 crowns, but just one piece was missing from the jigsaw puzzle: The Champions League.
The Parisians marriage with Neymar was seen as a match made in heaven, as it united a player desperate to make a name for himself as the best in the world with a club determined to get its hand on Europe’s Holy Grail.
Neymar was seen as the man to lead them to the Promised Land. However, his first season at the Parc des Princes did not go according to plan.
He scored a respectable 23 goals in Ligue 1 games (although with all due respect to the French League, but it is not exactly the strongest league). Moreover, PSG’s dominance over French football was so utter that they could easily win the league without the Brazilian.
He was bought to lead the club in Europe, and it was there that he faltered. PSG’s biggest clash of last season against Real Madrid offered Neymar the opportunity to shine on the biggest stage, by dethroning the current world best and leading his club to victory over the defending Champions.
He however failed to do that, putting a no show in the first leg, before an ankle injury ahead of the second leg effectively ruled him out of the second leg and the rest of the season.
Neymar thus faced a race against time to be fit for the World Cup, and it was on him that over 200 million World Cup obsessed Brazilians put their hopes on to lead them to glory in Russia after the shenanigans of 2014.
Once again, Neymar failed to deliver, watching on haplessly as Eden Hazard and co knocked out the favourites at the quarter-final. Indeed, Neymar was so ineffective at the World Cup, that it was said he had more impact on the ground with his theatrical play-acting that he had on the field of play, with a report emanating that he spent a total of 15 minutes on the floor rolling around during Brazil’s five matches.
Neymar is undoubtedly one of the most marketable and popular players on the planet. However, his fame shouldn’t be used as a mask for the sub-par season he had, and in no way is he a deserving nominee for the Ballon d’Or.