A lot of brainstorming goes into the selection process that determines the best individual player in the round leather game- football.
The year 2019 presents football analysts, fans & pundits a scenario whereby there is no one clear cut favourite for the ballon d’or crown.
Its a year where there was no World Cup. The Champions of Europe did not win their domestic League title.
Ronaldo said in 2012: “I still haven’t understood the criteria. One year it’s about performance, the next it’s about silverware.”
If Ronaldo, a five time recipient of the ballon d’or award does not understand the criteria, how much more the ordinary football fan?
FOOTYTOOL’S Adekanye Opeoluwa Xrays the agendas that defines this year’s ballon d’or race and those it favours.
(1) POPULARITY & MARKETABILITY AGENDA; Its a no brainer that the ballon d’or award is largely defined by popularity levels.
“Messi and Ronaldo are global brands and maybe for that reason they have an advantage”- Manuel Neuer.
Those it favours- RONALDO & MESSI- Even before any match was played in 2019, Ronaldo & Messi were already tipped as massive favourites to win the ballon d’or and reclaim a crown they held on to for 10 straight years before diminutive Croatian Modric pipped the duo to in 2018.
(2) THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE- Europe’s Club Premier competition would always be a major defining factor to determine the best player in the world.
Those it favours- Lionel Messi; The Argentine netted 12 times in the competition finishing as top scorer.
Virgil Van Dijk– The Dutch defender played a pivotal role for Liverpool as they won Europe’s premier competition. Strong in the air, won tackles and made hundreds of clearances. A rock solid defender.
Alisson– Keeping clean sheets after clean sheets is very rare for a goalkeeper in the Champions League. The saves coming up against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona in the 2nd leg was more and crucial.
(3) INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL- The best player in the world must be able to perform well for Club & country right?
It is thought that playing for one’s country is difficult. As compared to playing week in week out for a club where the players train together for consecutive weeks, footballers only come together to play for their country when a big tournament is around the corner, leaving them with perhaps at best few weeks to train together and understand each other’s pattern & to do justice to the coach’s tactics.
Those it favours; Bernardo Silva– Won the UEFA Nations League with Portugal & was named the tournament’s MVP.
Cristiano Ronaldo- Won the UEFA Nations League with Portugal scoring a treble in the Semi Final against Switzerland.
Alisson- Helped Brazil to win the Copa America for the first time since 2007 only conceding once in the final- a penalty against Peru.
(4)NUMBER OF TROPHIES WON; Players that win multiple titles are thought to have shown great performances in different competitions.
Those it favours- Manchester City players like Raheem Sterling, Mahrez and Bernardo Silvawon the domestic treble with the Citizens.
Bernardo Silva stands as perhaps the biggest beneficiary from this having been named Manceshter City’s player of the season.
(4) GOALKEEPER/DEFENDER SENTIMENTS- Over the years, how many defenders and goalkeepers have won the ballon d’or award?
Many journalists believe the ballon d’or award should be overhauled as it barely gives room for defenders or goalkeepers to win the award.
Forwards and midfielders who naturally have the chance to score goals are always highly favoured.
It then becomes easy to perhaps push the goalkeeper/defender agenda.
Those it favours- Alisson and Virgil Van Dijk; Majorly backed by winning the Champions League for Liverpool.
Alisson has gained more momentum in recent days after adding the golden glove from the Copa America to the golden glove he won as the Premier League’s best goalkeeper.
(5) THE AFRICAN AGENDA – How many African footballers have been named the best in the world?
Only George Weah in 1995
Some journalists would have this at the back if their mind when making their selections with Mahrez, Mane & Salah the Africans that will be highly favoured by that agenda.
The aforementioned are what journalists, fans, coaches and captains consider before voting for the best player in the world.
The lack of a clear cut favourite makes the 2019 ballon d’or race/ FIFA the Best award most intriguing in recent years.