FIFA have today announced the 23 names nominated for the coveted Ballon d’Or award given to the player considered to have been the best over the calendar year.
In 2010, Barcelona dominated as they took positions 1, 2 and 3 with Lionel Messi winning the award, ahead of team mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi respectively.
This year, Barcelona have over a third of the nominations; with an incredible 8 players in the running; twice as many as the Premier League.
La Liga dominates the shortlist, whilst Real Madrid having 5 players of their own nominated.
Wayne Rooney, Nani, Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero are the current Premier League players to have made the shortlist.
An immediate question springs to mind: where is Robin van Persie on this list? Someone FIFA have ignored the calendar year’s Premier League top goalscorer.
The Arsenal forward has 27 goals in 28 games in 2011; only Cristiano Ronaldo (33) of free-scoring Real Madrid has more in the top 5 European leagues. Yes, that’s right; van Persie has more league goals than Lionel Messi in this calendar year.
Robin van Persie has scored 3 goals in his 6 Champions League appearances this year. Not helped by his controversial red card at Camp Nou in February. The Dutchman scored Arsenal’s opener in their 2-1 first leg victory at the Emirates. Add a further 6 goals in 8 appearances for the Netherlands national team to his name.
I have come to the conclusion that FIFA don’t pay much attention to the Premier League. Or perhaps they’ve been focussing on Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
I’m happy to see Luis Suarez nominated for the award. The Uruguayan has made a big impact at Liverpool since his arrival in January. The 18-times domestic champions’ results have improved since the arrival of the 2010 World Cup’s most controversial player, coinciding with a change of manager. However, if forward’s are to be judged on goals; he only has 8 in 23 league games to date. With a further 7 assists to his name.
Nani had a startling start to last season domestically, but started to fade in the final few months of the season. However, the Manchester United and Portugal winger has arguably been the best player for the Red Devil’s so far this season.
Wayne Rooney wasn’t quite the player Manchester United and England were expecting last season but his flying start to the new season prior to October, and given his worldwide reputation helped his nomination. Rooney, the only Englishman on this year’s shortlist. Michael Owen was the last Englishman to win this award, 10 years ago.
An honourable mention goes to Sergio Aguero too for his nomination after setting the Premier League alight with his ability and finishing during his early days at Manchester City.
As for Barcelona’s nominees… Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta certainly merit them. Right back Dani Alves is a good nomination given his impact on games from the position he plays. David Villa has a couple of goals to his name, but hasn’t been the player we were expecting following his move from Valencia after the World Cup. Cesc Fabregas stands out like a sore thumb on this list given his limited game time and impact at Arsenal before moving to Barcelona. Eric Abidal’s inclusion is just bizarre. Out of sympathy one can assume.
Neymar of Santos was the only player playing outside of Europe nominated.
The full list of players nominated for the 2011 Ballon d’Or:
Eric Abidal (Barcelona)
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Dani Alves (Barcelona)
Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala)
Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona)
Diego Forlan (Inter Milan)
Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich)
Nani (Manchester United)
Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich)
Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan)
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
David Villa (Barcelona)
Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Number of players nominated by club:
Real Madrid (5)
Bayern Munich (2)
Inter Milan (2)
Manchester United (2)
Anzhi Makhachkala (1)
Manchester City (1)
Number of players nominated by league:
Spanish La Liga (13)
English Premier League (4)
German Bundesliga (2)
Italian Serie A (2)
Brazilian Serie A (1)
Russian Premier League (1)