golden ball soccer awardA shortlist of 10 players was announced for the Golden Ball award, which is a prestigious annual prize given by the French magazine “France Football” to the best player in Europe. The journalists who are going to select the winner nominated the following exceptional players:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Manchester United/Real Madrid)
  • Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea)
  • Samuel Etòo (Cameroon, Barcelona-Inter)
  • Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool)
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Inter/Barcellona)
  • Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona)
  • Kaka (Brazil, Milan/Real Madrid)
  • Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona)
  • Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United)
  • Xavi (Spain, Barcelona)

Many are predicting that the favorite to replace last year’s winner, Ronaldo, is Argentina’s star-man Lionel Messi. The reasons for which are, to me, a complete mystery.

Granted, I do not watch every single game of Barcelona’s season, but the continued monumental praise for this player leaves me rather baffled. Yes, on his day he can play some very nice football, but he does not exactly carry his team the way others on the list do. In fact, many times he goes missing, or is entirely contained by the opposition’s defense. This includes not only big games for Barca, but also the national team. Maradona himself criticized Messi as one the poorest performing top-stars which almost cost his country qualification to the World Cup.

I would make a case against Ibrahimovich and Wayne Rooney too, as despite moments of brilliance, they have not been as consistent as their inclusion on this list may suggest. In terms of pure talent, it is hard to see past Christiano Ronaldo again this year, though the player who carries his team the most is Steven Gerrard. In my humble view, both would make much better choices than Messi.

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