Now, as things stand, Cristiano Ronaldo is the strong favourite for the award, so the threat of Ribéry (and it is a threat) winning the award is… pretty miniscule. The Frenchman is seen as the outsider for this one, but having won the ‘Best Player in Europe’ award back in August, tipping Messi and Ronaldo to that award too, it wouldn’t exactly be impossible.
But I for one hope Ribéry doesn’t repeat that feat. In my opinion, if he wins the Ballon D’or, it would severely damage the credibility of the award.
We live in an era where we are spoilt rotten for talented footballers. The ‘number 10’ position didn’t really exist in football five or six years ago, now almost every top team in Europe deploys a ‘man in the hole’. Football has become centred around skill, flair, pace and trickery, and that is epitomised in the number 10 position.
Not that it hasn’t been in the past, but gone are the days of the hard-tackling midfielders like Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira, or big-hitting centre backs like Tony Adams or John Terry. Centre backs are expected to be good on the ball, and midfields are more centred around shape and organisation than brute strength.
Messi and Ronaldo are the poster-boys for this generation of incredible flair and skill. They’ve both been right at the pinnacle of world football since 2007. It’s rare for one player to remain at the top of his game for that long let alone two in the same generation. It’s to no surprise that Messi has won a record number of consecutive Ballon D’or’s and Ronaldo has finished runner up every time since losing his crown in 2009.
We’re so used to these two producing such magnificent football on an incredibly consistent basis that we’ve begun to take them for granted.
While Messi and Ronaldo are scoring 60+ goals a season, we shouldn’t even consider anyone else for the award (particularly given who they are and who they play for). As I said before Ronaldo is the favourite for the award, but there are many who say Ribéry should win. I tend to think however, that had Messi and Ronaldo scored over 60 goals for the first time in 2013, we would all be so awestruck that even the thought of Ribéry potentially winning the award wouldn’t enter our minds.
Just because Messi and Ronaldo have scored over 60/70 goals in a calendar year before doesn’t take anything whatsoever away from the achievement of doing so again. It seems ridiculous that just because we’re used to seeing them scoring one or two goals every game that we would then somehow devalue the accomplishment. Whether they’re doing it for the first time or for the tenth time, as long as Messi or Ronaldo is scoring 60+ goals a year, they need to win the Ballon D’or.
Obviously Ribéry does not and probably will not ever compete with Messi and Ronaldo for goals, but he’s been nominated for a different reason. Bayern Munich were so dominant in 2013, winning the treble, including the Champions League in which they slaughtered Barcelona 7-0 over two legs.
Ribéry has been included because in a year where Bayern have been so good, they needed a representative. I have a few issues with this though. I don’t think Ribéry is Bayern’s best player, nor do I think he was their standout player last year, enough to warrant a place on the final shortlist for the Ballon D’or.
He certainly doesn’t stand out like Messi does at Barca or like Ronaldo does at Madrid, or like Ibrahimovic does at PSG etc. It confuses me as to why Ribéry is getting all the praise and attention from Bayern Munich’s triumphs in 2013. Has Ribéry been any better than Schweinsteiger? Than Robben? Than Neuer? Than Lahm? Even players like Martinez, Kroos, Muller, Mandzukic and Alaba have been fantastic, and I don’t really see what Ribéry has done to put himself firmly above the rest of his teammates. Ribéry was a huge part of Bayern successes in 2013, there’s no doubt about it, but did he stand out enough to justify such attention as to place him alongside Messi and Ronaldo? Not for me.
The winner of the Ballon D’or is voted for by Journalists, National Team Coaches and National Team Captains, so anything can happen. But if this award is truly put in place to show who the best player in the world is, or has been over the past 12 months, surely either Messi or Ronaldo has to win it. Awarding it to Ribéry would make something of a mockery of the whole award, and in my view would be an unfair reflection on the past 12 months. Bayern Munich have been scintillating, but as an individual, Ribéry cannot be compared to Messi or Ronaldo.