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What does the Ballon d'Or say about English football?

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Phil Minshull | 14:35 UK time, Tuesday, 26 October 2010

With perfect timing, an email with the shortlist for the new-look FIFA Ballon d'Or arrived on Tuesday morning just as I was sitting down to write this blog.

For those that don't know, this award replaces the former Fifa World Player of the Year after a merger earlier this year between it and the historic Ballon d'Or award, presented by the magazine France Football, which has been around since 1956.

Having looked through this year's list of initial nominees, two things immediately struck me.

The complete absence of English - or for that matter Scottish, Welsh and Irish - players and the dearth of players from the Premier League.

Well, this is a blog about European football so I'll accentuate some of the positive aspects of football on the continental mainland in a moment but how can it be that the Premier League, which is supposedly - whether it's according to the English football authorities, global TV ratings and merchandising revenues or just punters wearing rose-tinted spectacles - the strongest domestic league in the world, only has three players in the top 23 exponents of the sport in last 12 months.

Count them: Chelsea's Didier Drogba, Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas and Sunderland's Asamoah Gyan, the latter being a slightly unusual choice in my humble opinion. That's it.

No Carlos Tevez, no Wayne Rooney (although it's not inconceivable that there might have been a quick re-think about his inclusion during or after last week's contract soap opera) and, even though he might also have been a long shot as there was not anybody on the list who didn't play at the World Cup, no Gareth Bale.

I'm a cheerleader for La Liga and Serie A but I still can't work out why the Premier League ended up being so badly represented.

If playing in the World Cup was an unspoken criteria for being on shortlist, it seems completely unfair to exclude the likes of Dimitar Berbatov or Andrey Arshavin just because of where they happened to be born.

By contrast, World Cup winners Spain were naturally well represented with seven men in the shortlist, the biggest number of any country, but even then I was surprised that Gerard Pique was left out.

Personally, I would have omitted Carles Puyol and perhaps even Cesc, who was in great form at Arsenal (so I'm guessing that Fifa must have occasionally been looking at Premier League matches last season) but a much more marginal figure in South Africa, only appearing as a substitute in four games.

By virtue of their significant contribution to the Spain squad, and also having Lionel Messi on their books, Barcelona is the best represented club side with six players vying for the honour.

In fact, all 23 men on the list play at European clubs.

The breakdown is 11 players currently in La Liga; five in the Bundesliga, all at Bayern Munich; four in Serie A, again a very one-dimensional selection with the quartet all coming from Inter Milan; and, as mentioned, three from the Premier League.

Tongue-in-cheek comments are already doing the rounds wondering whether Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho - with his Real Madrid side having four - will let their players attend the gala in Zurich on 10 January 2011if they are still in the Spanish Cup, with matches to be played later that week.

The two coaches controversially stopped most of their players attending last week's Príncipe de Asturias awards, where Spain's national team won the country's most prestigious sports award, because of last weekend's La Liga matches.

From my perspective, for their year-long performances for both club and country, my top three for the FIFA Ballon d'Or would be Inter and the Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder as well as the Spain and Barcelona pair of Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

However, feel free to comment on who you should win and who has been unjustly omitted from this short list.

This week, it's also impossible not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo after his goalscoring feat in Real Madrid 6-1 thrashing of Racing Santander on Saturday, especially as he's also on the FIFA short-list.

Ronaldo's nomination raises the question about how much reputations count over current form. Photo: Getty

Ronaldo got what the Spanish like to call a "poker", that's four goals in a match (so called because four of a kind is one of the best hands) for the first time in his professional career and he now leads the La Liga scorers with nine goals.

If he carries on like this then he could well be in contention for another trip to what's now the FIFA Ballon d'Or gala having been there for the last three years and won in 2008.
He may have had a dismal World Cup and Real didn't do much in last season's Champions League, which also raises the question about how much reputations count over current form when the shortlist is being constructed, but there's no denying the fact that he's on fire at the moment and the voters - the head coaches and captains of national teams - often have very short-term memories.

His exploits also provided further evidence, if any was required, about why Real Madrid don't need, and didn't want, Rooney. It also indirectly showed how much nonsense was being written last week about supposed links between Rooney and Real.

Real themselves remain unbeaten at the top of La Liga and have scored 16 goals in their last three league games, netting six in back-to-back home games for the first time in 46 years, although I think it's still worth pointing out that so far they have only faced one other team that is in the top eight of La Liga.

They still have to play Villarreal, Barcelona and Valencia, the three teams immediately below them, during the first half of the season and also have local derbies against Atletico Madrid and Getafe.

Changing the subject, my completely unofficial hero of the week award goes not to any individual player but the Real Betis doctor Tomas Calero whose swift thinking and competence saved the life of Salamanca's Miguel Garcia in the two clubs Spanish second division match on Sunday.

Garcia collapsed of an apparent heart attack, exactly on the hour as Betis were making a substitution, and his heart stopped for between 20 and 25 seconds.

Upon seeing the replays of what happened on Monday, my blood froze.

It was all to reminiscent of the television images of when Benfica's Miklos Feher and Sevilla's Antonio Puerta collapsed on the pitch, and tragically later died, during domestic league games in 2004 and 2007.

Fortunately, on this occasion, there was a happier outcome after Calero rushed to the Garcia's aid and administered CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation), including applying a defibrillator.

"'It was fortunate that, when he collapsed, it was right in front of our bench and I saw him fall. As I got to him, I realised it was a cardiac arrest and so we immediately began a process of resuscitation. Thank God the player was saved," reflected Calero modestly on Monday.

Personally, I'd like to see Calero get some kind of special award at the Ballon d'Or gala.

Comments on this blog in the space below. Other questions on European football to:, and I'll get back to answering some next week. I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.


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  • 1. At 3:49pm on 26 Oct 2010, jollyeric wrote:

    Well the Premier league clubs didn't have the best outing in last season's champion's league, though far too much was made of it. That combined with England's poor showing at the world cup accounts for a lot. Personally I think these awards are stupid, not least cause football is a team game. I will be judging the premier league's ability by the champion's league results. Currently all 4 teams are in a position to qualify.

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  • 2. At 3:51pm on 26 Oct 2010, Pirlo-vision wrote:

    Yeah, props to the doc who saved that player's life. We may have been reading a tribute to Miguel Garcia right now if it weren't for Calero.

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  • 3. At 3:54pm on 26 Oct 2010, Lucas is also not a jigsaw piece wrote:

    hi Phil, great blog as usual
    have to agree with Wesley Sneijder and Andres Iniesta being favourites, they had an excellent year
    hard to disagree with th fact there arent many players from the Prem, only Chelsea stood out as a team so Drogba is an obvious choice.
    As for Gyan's inclusion, what a joke that is! fair do's he scored a couple at the WC but was hardly prolific for his club before switching to the Prem.
    an outside bet for me is Thomas Muller of Bayern, a real talent that gets overlooked by us Brits (well apart from the ones who saw him tear England apart at the WC ;-))

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  • 4. At 3:55pm on 26 Oct 2010, English-Players-Dont-Dive wrote:

    most players from the PL, did badly in the wc, and CL was poor for all english teams so its no surprise.

    Watching england in is summer is enough to understand why no english player got nominated.

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  • 5. At 4:06pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ferry_Arab wrote:

    Certainly, no England player deserves to be in on their international form, but I'm surprised that so few players from the Premiership have been included. Normally I find its a bit over-represented. Quite why the list is ever 20-odd players long in the first place is something of a mystery, since there tend to be about 3 or 4 players each season who could ever realistically win it.

    That said, the two players I tend of think of as the best in the world, Ronaldo and Messi (and as I said on another blog the 2 current players I feel who have the potential to be included in "best ever" debates in 20 years time), may not be amongst the front-runners since they didn't have great world cups.

    In fact there don't seem to be many players who had great seasons for both club and country. A lot of the top Inter players, for example, didn't have great world cups - Maicon, Cesar, Lucio, Milito, Eto'o. Although Barca didn't get to the Champs League final I still think their performances and league championship (coupled with the World Cup win) mean that Xavi and (especially) Iniesta will be there or there abouts, as will the Dutch pair of Sneijder and Robben. Interestingly, that means there are no out-and-out strikers in the favourites for me, as these awards are often seen to favour goalscorers.

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  • 6. At 4:06pm on 26 Oct 2010, gregg_LUFC wrote:

    The players in the 23 man shortlist are understandable but I disagree with your suggestion that Xavi could be a possible winner, he had an average World Cup in my opinion and surely Iniesta and Villa have to be regarded as favourites with Muller and Forlan outsiders.

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  • 7. At 4:08pm on 26 Oct 2010, gregg_LUFC wrote:

    Just adding to that post, Robben and Sneijder also had excellent seasons and are potential winners.

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  • 8. At 4:09pm on 26 Oct 2010, Uninventivename wrote:

    Not really a massive surprise, poor showing for PL players in CL and the WC. And as the Ballon d'Or almost always gets given to a player who was in the winning team for the CL or the WC the fact that there was only 1 PL player in the Spanish team, there were never going to be very many representatives. In fact, you're never allowed to get anywhere near for the Ballon d'Or unless you get through to the quarter final stages of the CL or the WC, which is one of the (many) reasons why it's a rubbish award.

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  • 9. At 4:14pm on 26 Oct 2010, Renzo_23 wrote:

    Dis-agree with this notion that all English players have played badly. Rooney was absolutely awesome last season. And if anything it was his loss that helped united go out the champions league.

    I don't think Messi and Ronaldo exactly set the world alight with world cup performances. They where average. But have been amazing in the season before.

    Rooney should be on that list. For his season last year because he carried one of the best teams in the world. And i say that threw gritted teeth because i am not a fan of his as the minute.

    I think this year the judges have just looked at the world cup and picked from there mainly.

    I think Diego Forlan is a front runner because he has been mega for the last 4 years or so. But it has to be Snieder for me too. He won 3 tophies at Inter and then did well at world cup.

    But you have to question Rooney and Torres being left out And also Ashley cole. They apart from the world cup where quality for there clubs.

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  • 10. At 4:15pm on 26 Oct 2010, Tokunboh Akinbiyi wrote:

    The WC apparently played a huge role in these selections..Gyan was very key for Ghana. Also, should having not played in the prem be a disadvantage? Regardless, I think sneijer would win it.

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  • 11. At 4:15pm on 26 Oct 2010, mrsmoxon wrote:

    The Premier League has been in decline for years. Liverpool, United, Arsenal and even Chelsea are not as good as they were several seasons ago. Man City and Spurs have improved but I think there is a genuine lack of real stars now with La Liga easily having the best technical players. Sometimes we get blinkered about the Premiership, yes it is exciting but there is definitelty a shortage of really excellent players. Rooney, for example, is outstanding in the Premiership because of poor quality defending. When he comes up against the world's best, like he did in the World Cup, he simply wasn't up to scratch

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  • 12. At 4:26pm on 26 Oct 2010, Vikdaddy wrote:

    Ashley Cole has been the World's best left back for almost a decade and gets very little recognition for that. He was also, along with Gerrard perhaps, our best player at the World Cup.

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  • 13. At 4:27pm on 26 Oct 2010, dave parker wrote:

    It seems to me that the Ballon d'or has been judged on the world cup rather than the year as a whole. And like you say in your article it does seem reputations may count for something when the nominees are decided.

    Yes Wayne Rooney had a stinker of a world cup and this season has been about as bad as it could get, but still he carried Man Utd last year and was in my opinion, by far the best player in the premier league. It does make me wonder whether the issues in his private life and the ridiculous contract situation last week have had some part in Rooney not appearing on the list.

    It doesn't surprise me that the list only includes 3 players from the premier league. Firstly England's world cup was dismal and secondly the english teams (except Fulham) were relatively poor in Europe, which seem to be the competitions this list is judged on. And for some reason I feel that Fifa and Uefa officials see the Premier League as unfashionable when compared to our European counterparts. I think they see us as a big spending, kick and rush league. Far from the truth but if Michel Platini is anything to go by!!!!

    Was Asamoah Gyan, Samuel E'to, Cesc Fabregas or Dani Alves the best player in the World over the past year? I dont think so, and I am not trying to say that any one of them is not a good player, but best in the world????. I really do think that a new system must be drawn up to decide who the nominees are going to be.

    The top three like you said must be Iniesta, Xavi and Sneijder. All three were brilliant for both club and country. They each won there respective leagues and helped there countries to the World Cup final. If I had to pick one, it would be Iniesta. His touch and ball control is unbelievable, like the ball is attached to his foot with a piece of string. Surely, if there is some justice, the midfield maestro from the Camp Nou must win this award!!

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  • 14. At 4:30pm on 26 Oct 2010, remixdesign wrote:

    Forlan is a great shout, he had an unbelievable season and a great world cup. In fact, he ended his season on fire and cemented his reputation as one of the best strikers in the game.

    The nominees are a strange mix because the World Cup clearly had a big bearing on the group (Gyan?!) - However, Ronaldo, Eto'o & Drogba barely did a thing in South Africa.

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  • 15. At 4:32pm on 26 Oct 2010, SAFCJimbo wrote:

    As a Sunderland fan, it would be criminal to suggest anyone other then Gyan. However, being realistic isn't a crime...Villa for me.

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  • 16. At 4:35pm on 26 Oct 2010, SummersIron wrote:

    There are so many of these award ceremonies per year that I forget which is which. Regardless, it's hard to look past Barcelona's Spaniards, after they won a World Cup and hit a record points total in la liga. I imagine Puyol is in there ahead of Pique because of his goal against Germany, though I too think the latter is now the better defender.

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  • 17. At 4:36pm on 26 Oct 2010, Hello Dave wrote:

    Bah. Rooney carried Man United on his back last season and was excellent in WC qualifying. In the world cup he was played as a conventional striker in strangely managed team and a formation which just wasn't suited to the tournament. As someone said above, football is a team game and when there are real systemic problems no individual is going to be covered in glory. Ronaldo and Rooney both didn't win anything, let alone Gyan so I don't see how this should count for anything in terms of the shortlist (though it's an important factor for the winner).

    There're only 4 defenders on the list. Ashley Cole has been outstanding for club and country too even during the world cup, the only England player who didn't sully his reputation!

    Personal preferences play a much bigger part in this process than they should. I always find the whole process slightly farcical as are FIFA as a whole. No transparency and a totally unprofessional leader who is never challenged internally or externally.

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  • 18. At 4:39pm on 26 Oct 2010, Neutral Bystander wrote:

    Why is Heskey not there?

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  • 19. At 4:39pm on 26 Oct 2010, Big_Diesel wrote:

    Based on English teams’ performances in the Champions League & the performance of England in the World Cup, it can hardly be a surprise of the poor representation of English based players in the listing. Although, despite a terrible World Cup surprised of Rooney's exclusion, dragging a poor Man Utd team to second in the league and some unbelievable performances in the Champions League. The winner will most likely come from either (i) Xavi, (ii) Iniesta , (iii) Sneijder or (iv) Robben. However, an award for the best individual of the year it really has to go to Messi, he is on another level. Overall, there are some strange choices, primarily Gyan and Eto'o over Miltio

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  • 20. At 4:39pm on 26 Oct 2010, lspind wrote:

    it boggles my mind people still bang on about rooney. yes, he has had good seasons in the past, but that is the past. he has scored what, once?? since march? with more games to chance as england's striker in the wc added to both regular season AND cl matches? how can anyone possibly think a striker who has scored perhaps once in 8-9 months with all those opportunities, deserves to be on the list with these guys? there are far humbler english strikers who have performed their roles to greater effect. please.

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  • 21. At 4:40pm on 26 Oct 2010, Swindon2010 wrote:

    I don't think the Rooney debacle last week was why he wasn't included. The fact that he's scored twice since March, one for England and one for Man United, and had a terrible world cup, is a bigger factor.
    It's a shame there's so many spanish players in the list too... they should have more players from different leagues, it's hard to look away from the various exploits of, for example, some German players in the last year, such as Schweinsteiger (who may be on the list but is not mentioned here).

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  • 22. At 4:50pm on 26 Oct 2010, Stevat wrote:

    Totally agree with the list, but I think it's just reflective of football now. The best players in the world play in Spain, Italy and Germany now - it seems it's only the British press that are unwilling to accept that. The culture of hard tackling and physical, non-technical football is hardly going to attract flair players to the league. I've said many times that if Iniesta or Xavi were English, they would never be professional footballers - our coaches would consider them too small or slow.

    On that score, for me Iniesta is the best footballer in the World. I don't think I've ever seen him concede possession, and the way he escapes cul-de-sac's with the ball and find's space where other's cannot is simply masterful. Football is a game of space management and sound decision making after all.

    The doctor should get something, one man's life is worth far more than any game of football or award. It is just a game after all.

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  • 23. At 4:52pm on 26 Oct 2010, Hello Dave wrote:

    Last season Rooney was widely acknowledged in the European press as in the top 3 players in the world. it was only 6 months ago, you all have really short memories!

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  • 24. At 4:52pm on 26 Oct 2010, Di Livios Florencia Viola wrote:

    I think it is slightly harsh to suggest that Cristiano Ronaldo's form was not great last year, he as well as Higuian (Who somehow didn't get on the shortlist with 34 goals in 47 games last season, including 4 in 4 in the World Cup) have meant that teams coming up against Real Madrid are hypothetically down by 2 goals before they start.

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  • 25. At 4:58pm on 26 Oct 2010, jonny wrote:

    It has to be Wesley Sneijder as he won Italian league,Italian super cup,Champions League and Was joint top scorer in the World Cup with 6 goals and played a major part for holland getting to the final.

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  • 26. At 4:59pm on 26 Oct 2010, 1950 wrote:

    Great news about Garcia, hope he recovers and continues hs football career without problems like these.

    Miklós Féher, our Eternal 29.

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  • 27. At 5:03pm on 26 Oct 2010, macca14 wrote:

    Great article, is it me or is this often a glorified list of players who are perceived to be the best in the world!

    Granted Ronaldo is in good form, but does his form over the last year warrant being on the short list - world cup, la liga, champions league all amount to no medals!

    Shouldn’t this be a celebration of those players who have been genuinely outstanding over the year? in which case voters should be looking no further the Snejider. He’s won the champion’s league, his domestic league and been instrumental in getting his country to the world cup final!

    also, how does a Sunderland squad player make the list? as pointed out this just isn't fair on players who 'can't' go to a world cup, apologies are unlikely to go to a world cup.... which leads me nicely onto Ryan Giggs, although maybe last years award would have been more fitting.

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  • 28. At 5:04pm on 26 Oct 2010, Michael R wrote:

    I am really surprised at the feedback about the Ballon D'or. It's irrelevant! Have you lot not read the first 7 of the last 8 paragraphs???

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  • 29. At 5:05pm on 26 Oct 2010, mark bollandas wrote:

    Why are people saying robben? He was injured till jan last year, yes he scored a few great goals in the champions league, but he didnt do anything else. in the world cup he was again injured for large parts of it.
    Iniesta and xavi deserve to be in the top 3 for playing the game the way it should be. short quick passes, using technique and creativity to beat opponents. And as he was so good for inter and holland sneijder deserves to be nominated.
    Isnt the award for what people did for 2010? the best player in the worl from jan-march/april was wayne rooney so it is a joke that he has not been nominated. Before his injury to bayern munich he was unplayable. Yes he had an average world cup but so did loads of other players.
    I also feel that some defenders should be mentioned. People like samuel and lucio (even though he is a cheat who dives whenever a striker goes near him) should be nominated. When inter beat barca their strategy was to stop barca playing and prevent their star players playing. Mourinhos tactics for winning the treble were based on been defensively sound, so his defensive players should be praised for doing such a great job.

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  • 30. At 5:06pm on 26 Oct 2010, littlejklc wrote:

    It is not a surprise to me at all. It should be none actually. Asamoah Gyan was not a PL player last season and he deserved there contrast to what you said. Drogra and Cesc don't deserve to be there.
    Seriously, name a PL player that played well in WC. You cannot name one. Kuyt is the only one played okay, although not great. And English clubs didn't play well in last season Champions League either.
    So the list is fair, whether or not there is any meaning.

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  • 31. At 5:09pm on 26 Oct 2010, The United Way wrote:

    I do subscribe to the view that the Premier League is in decline, I mean, TRANSITION. However, these awards have always had an anti-English and anti-Premier League bias anyway.

    Thierry Henry was, by a country mile, the best player in the world a few years back. The guy touched perfection at times. I am a Manchester United fan, and I hate Henry with a passion.

    That Paul Scholes has never got anywhere near it, one of the greatest midfielders of all time, suggests that it is just a media tool that is largely irrelevant. Although I suspect he would not have wanted it anyway, I think he deserves recognition for his pure brilliance that he never really got from the worldwide media.

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  • 32. At 5:10pm on 26 Oct 2010, govmeister wrote:

    Completely unrelated to the main point of the blog, but seeing as we're talking about European Football i think it would be remiss to talk about the most amazing result of the weekend by far. PSV Eindhoven 10-0 Feyenoord. Now admittedly to say Feyenoord are a team in decline would be a massive understatement, but to put double figures past one of your biggest rivals and main challengers for honours in the league in years gone by is an astonishing acheivement. Particularly as they were only 2-0 up at half time!

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  • 33. At 5:11pm on 26 Oct 2010, Robert Carrington wrote:

    The Gyan nomination is a joke. He scored a few at the World Cup and the African Cup of Nations but he missed a ridiculous amount and his club form hasn't been great. Surely whoever was providing him with all the chances should have got the nomination.

    Personally I'd like to see Forlan get it. He may not have won anything but for me he did everything right for Uruguay at the World Cup, making a mediocre team look good and his club scoring record in the last few years is phenomenal. I just wish he could have played like he is now for Manchester United.

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  • 34. At 5:14pm on 26 Oct 2010, ozza33 wrote:

    IMO it should be Sneijder, however I reckon it will be Iniesta purely because he scored the winner in the World Cup final, and as history has shown the winner of the world player of the year has usually come from the key players of the winning World Cup team.

    Also I have said this on the 606 thread as well, but the list is way too reliant on the World Cup, quite a few players who were outstanding for their clubs last season (Milito and Higuain in particular) didn't get on the list while others who did well in the World Cup but not for their clubs (Gyan and Klose) were on the list, its something that shouldn't be the case.

    As for Premier League players not being on the list, I think the list of players from the PL is fair the only ones I would possibly add would be Tevez or Malouda, I think even though as has been mentioned before the Premier League is more exciting to watch, La Liga is technically superior and therefore has better players, also I don't see how any of the players from the England team deserve to be in there (Yes Rooney was good but only up until April.)

    Finally going back to Asamoah Gyan, surely his Sunderland strike partner Darren Bent deserves to be on the list more, I know Bent didn't go to the World Cup (Travesty IMO), but he had a much more productive year overall than Gyan. They might as well call it World Player of the year from June till July.

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  • 35. At 5:17pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ivan Drago wrote:

    Definitely think it should be Messi, 47 goals out of 53 games, even considering that he's playing in such a great team, thats still an incredible return

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  • 36. At 5:19pm on 26 Oct 2010, singerisland wrote:

    What about Gareth Bale ?? even at the mid/end last season he was playing wonderfully

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  • 37. At 5:21pm on 26 Oct 2010, Raffazza wrote:

    Not remotely surprised about the lack of English or England-based players on the list.

    Wayne Rooney last year as very good, but then so were the others on the list.

    Personally would be one of Sneijder, Messi, Ronaldo or Xavi.

    "Granted Ronaldo is in good form, but does his form over the last year warrant being on the short list - world cup, la liga, champions league all amount to no medals"
    Have you seen his goalscoring record for Real Madrid? Its incredible! Winning medals is not a necessity for greatness - think the great Brazilian and Dutch sides (and the likes of DiStefano) that did not win the world cup after all...

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  • 38. At 5:30pm on 26 Oct 2010, MUFC 1902 - This Is The One wrote:

    I am highly disappointed at the lack of inclusion of Roque Santa Cruz. After a £17m to the biggest club in history (they are massive), I would have thought his form would have flourished and he would have ran away with this ward. Strange.

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  • 39. At 5:35pm on 26 Oct 2010, djuhn wrote:

    "... It was all to reminiscent..."

    "Too," please.

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  • 40. At 5:35pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ichi_1 wrote:

    "However, these awards have always had an anti-English and anti-Premier League bias anyway.

    Thierry Henry was, by a country mile, the best player in the world a few years back. The guy touched perfection at times. I am a Manchester United fan, and I hate Henry with a passion."

    Agree completely. There was a season when Zidane won it instead purely because of two performances in the CL for Madrid and i remember Ronaldinho winning it instead another year even though hed done naff all. For me Henry summed it up perfectly when he said he wasnt bothered about winning an award that someone like Raul never won, despite being one of the best players in the world for over a decade, captaining one of the great club sides to countless titles and topping La Liga scoring charts a fair few times

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  • 41. At 5:37pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ichi_1 wrote:

    For me its out of Iniesta, Xavi, Villa or Sneijder. None of them have a bad game and all won major honours

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  • 42. At 5:38pm on 26 Oct 2010, monkeyphoenix wrote:

    A few things:

    - these awards are always next to useless in a world cup year, far too much weight is given to performances in the world cup, where the overall standard (up until last 16, probably even quarter finals) is well below that of the top european leagues and champions league. Take Asomoah Gyan for example - he makes the shortlist based on 5 world cup games purely. Gyan shortlisted for WORLD'S BEST PLAYER? He's ok and I like the guy, but come on!

    - It's based on about April onwards. Remember how AMAZING everyone was saying how great Rooney was up until March? Most journos were saying he was as good as Messi at the time. But he's been absolutley rubbish since April, so forget it.

    - The Premier league, although not the best league in the world in my opinion (though it's easily in top 3, prob 2nd!) never has a good showing in these. Was it well represented when England had 5 finalists from 2005 onwards? No. Well represented when they had 3 semi-finalists in champions league? No.

    - It's no coincidence that premier league stars, not only english, didn't make the shortlist. There really should be more there! But we have the longest season, and no winter break, so yet again premier league stars perform poorly in the world cup, which is what Fifa bases these awards on.

    - Lastly, there shouldn't be an English player in the nominations. In previous years, there should have been more. But name ONE english player who should be there?

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  • 43. At 5:40pm on 26 Oct 2010, monkeyphoenix wrote:

    Also, Messi should walk it, surely. But the award will go to somebody who had a great world cup showing, and unfortunately it wasn't him.

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  • 44. At 5:42pm on 26 Oct 2010, Brad_SholingFC wrote:

    Such fine lines in football. If England had beaten Germany at the WC then we would have had their places. Sneijder should get it.

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  • 45. At 5:42pm on 26 Oct 2010, sangels wrote:

    It's ridiculous to suggest Ronaldo is there on reputation. Even with injuries last season he scored 33 in 35 with 7 assists, this season he has got 10 in 11 with 6 assists. That's 43 goals in 46 games with 13 assists. Surely that's enough to get a nomination. It's stranger why Higuaín didn't make the list, or Milito. Anyway, I think it's a gonna be between Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and Sneijder. Messi stats are insane; 59 goals in 64 games with 17 assists this season and last.

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  • 46. At 5:43pm on 26 Oct 2010, Karim wrote:

    I think your comments on Ronaldo regarding inclusion in the list based on reputation rather than form are completely unjustified.

    Current form, well top scorer in La Liga speaks for itself and last season Real Madrid would've finished a lot further down the table had it not been for Ronaldo, his form was unbelievably good and almost single handedly kept Real in the title chase.

    You don't have to be a football genius to know that so why bother raising this unfounded argument?? Kinda pathetic for a reporter who actually specialises in Spanish football.

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  • 47. At 5:43pm on 26 Oct 2010, Colin The Truth wrote:

    Gareth Bale??????????????????

    And they say Spurs fans don't run the media?

    Come on!!!!!!

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  • 48. At 5:44pm on 26 Oct 2010, Simply Ruud wrote:

    Most people here are completely overlooking Wesley Sneijder, whereas I personally feel he is one of 2 players who are miles ahead of others in contention for the award.

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  • 49. At 5:50pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ben wrote:

    not read all the comments above, but couldn't help but notice the lack of attention Diego Forlan has receieved. best player at the world cup and Europa League winner... For me it's between him and Sneijder, as Wesley almost won it all this year, and was up there with the top performers at the WC. x

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  • 50. At 5:50pm on 26 Oct 2010, Renzo_23 wrote:

    Well after look at people's reactions then there is only 1 winner in my eyes now. i said sneider before but it has to be Forlan.

    He was voted best player at the world cup. And he was cracking last season. So technically he was voted as the top performer at the world cup so should be favourite.

    Also people who say things like hasn't score since march. please please remember the season finish's for 2 months. So it would be hard for a player to score a goal when the season is over.

    It has to be Diego Forlan now because seems it is on who did well at the world cup and he was voted best player at the world cup.

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  • 51. At 5:52pm on 26 Oct 2010, markblur1 wrote:

    Diego Milito was officially UEFA's player of the Champions League but isnt on the FIFA/Ballon D'Or list. Bizarre. He scored the winners in the game Inter won the scudetto, the Italian Cup final and the European Cup final! 29 goals in his debut Inter season and Serie A top scorer. Ok he only played once for Argentina in South Africa which just shows these gongs are too heavily weighted on performances in one four-week tournament rather than the whole year.

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  • 52. At 5:54pm on 26 Oct 2010, MrERG wrote:

    I believe the entire system is fundamentally incorrect. Each european footballing nation should elect/vote/nominate two players for the award. This means each nation is represented and the best players from each nation (NOT LEAGUE)based upon form across multiple compititions are in line for the award.

    Also! Talk about short term memories. Gareth Bale for a nomination?? you must be kidding. One hat-trick against a team that couldn't be bothered certainly doesn't make him a great player!!!

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  • 53. At 5:55pm on 26 Oct 2010, Renzo_23 wrote:

    Also just to back up my claim on Forlan before people jump down my throat he carried his club to the Europa League with some stunning goals and also massive performances ask Liverpool and Fulham fans. He then went on to be named player of the world cup. And that's without mentioning his very good scoring record which i believe is just a bit better than 1 in 2 matches.

    So Forlan should win it off Merit with Sneider second and Iniesta 3rd.

    Messi and Ronaldo should both of been left off the list if a bad world cups means you don't make the list. (Rooney and Ashley cole, Possibly Torres)

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  • 54. At 5:56pm on 26 Oct 2010, timbo12 wrote:

    I think MESSI is far and away the best player I have seen for a long time. Next I would consider ROBBEN, he performed at his best, just when it was needed. Then I would go for FORLAN, this guy was outstanding, whenever I saw him play. I know Ronaldo should be right up there, but he is such narcissist.
    More importantly though, a special award should be given to the Doctor who saved Miguel Garcia. Thus recognizing that LIFE is more important than football.

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  • 55. At 5:58pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ken Officer wrote:

    Why is it that people are surprised about the shortage of British players representing their countries in the Player of the year awards. Please correct me if I am wrong, but FIFA doesn't like British players to be considered for this award as history shows. With the exception of David Beckham a few years back, no British player has even been considered (I don't know if George Best was considered or not, but he would have had no chance because he was Irish). David Becham actually got a podium finish, but would never have been allowed to win it. I don't think Christiano Ronaldo, playing for Man United would have won the award either, had he been British.

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  • 56. At 5:59pm on 26 Oct 2010, Stevat wrote:

    #28, you're right of course, saving one person's life eclipses any achievement anyone can make in the game of football. Sadly, such heroism is unlikely to be rewarded/recognised by such a celebrity driven sport.

    #31, see my comment above as to why Paul Scholes has never been recognised by this award. Like you I think the league is in decline, and also like you I think Paul Scholes is a true genius and one of the very few British players who could have made a success of himself abroad. As it is, his introverted personality and self-realisation make him a charming and eloquent speaker when interviewed (I always enjoy hearing him talk, even though he loves playing against my team, Newcastle) yet also make him consistently overlooked in these awards in favour of the brash and brazen showmen the sport seems to be dominated by these days.

    That is why Iniesta is such a great player to me, totally selfless and very much a Spanish equivalent to Scholes.

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  • 57. At 6:02pm on 26 Oct 2010, BahamasSpurs wrote:

    It's scary but you can see the footage of Miguel Garcia on youtube. Best of luck to him but I've got no idea if the doctors will allow him to put himself at the mercy of the rigours of professional football again. Time will tell I guess.

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  • 58. At 6:03pm on 26 Oct 2010, evarofzentral wrote:

    I think the fact that the three players from the Premier League play for different clubs, compared to the players from other leagues just being from the biggest and best club in that country is testament to the overall quality and competitiveness of the Premier League.

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  • 59. At 6:03pm on 26 Oct 2010, Pete Edwards wrote:

    Phil, great blog again, always impressed and entertained.

    Firstly, huge amounts of respect to the physio, Tomas Calero. His instincts impress far more than that of any player, and more should have been made of what he did.

    Secondly, the Rooney hype does annoy me slightly. Every tournament there is one England player who gathers massive quanities of expectation, and is supposed to single handedly win us the cup (think Owen, Beckham, Gascoigne, Keegan, etc), almost while standing atop a statue of Queen Victoria singing God Save the Queen. I'm not denying that these players are good, but best in the world? Rooney's temperament and maturity surely mean he is not up there, and will probably never be for me; it's not just what he can do with the ball, but who he is, and he isn't all that.

    I'm English through and through, and have a great sense of pride when English teams win and win well, but until people stop idolising regardless of form and attitude (more so the latter) then the national team will never live up to it's potential. 66 was a while ago now...

    Thirdly, i read a while back that the BBC SPOTY award was one of the few sporting awards that are actually taken seriously, but i would argue the Ballon d'Or is another. Yes, there are lots of other mediocre ones out there, but this has always stood out, long may it continue.

    Finally, Sneider has clearly stood out for me, although there are others who have also been excellent. I think Forlan is the biggest ommision, but as you said, reputation counts for a lot, and i think playing for a team that isn't in the Champions League, or necessarily at the top of their domestic one counts for almost everything.

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  • 60. At 6:06pm on 26 Oct 2010, David wrote:

    Sneijder is probably the favorite to win. Not only did he have a superb season, but he was one of the main contributers to both club and country. The sad thing is that there would not even be a debate on who would win had the netherlands won the world cup. I can understand achievements being a big factor in who should be crowned best player of the year, but sometimes i think they are the only factors.

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  • 61. At 6:09pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ali Gupter so call Football Expert wrote:

    No mention in the blog that there is not one italian player

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  • 62. At 6:10pm on 26 Oct 2010, ben wrote:

    Sneijder 1st, Messi 2nd, Forlan 3rd.

    Sneijder had an amazing season last year and deserves the award, also he is being strongly linked with united at the minute but my question is why didnt united go for him when he left madrid for 13m?!?!?

    Cant ignore the fact Messi scored over 40 goals for barca last year, he had a good world cup without scoring, Sneijder just pips him to the award in my opinion.

    Forlan got the award for best player at the world cup and had another goalscoring season with athletico.

    The prem has lost a lot of stars and hasnt really brought in any world class names, hopefully the likes of Sneijder, Pato, Muller, Augero and more will soon be seen on match of the day!

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  • 63. At 6:16pm on 26 Oct 2010, Fourth is the New First wrote:

    Surely Xavi has to win the Ballon d'Or this time around? The fulcrum of both the sextuple winning Barcelona side and the most successful Spanish national team in history. In all likelihood, Xavi will be remembered as one of the greatest ever players, so does a fancy trinket really matter? Well yes, yes it does!

    Diego Milito is conspicuous in his absence from the list of nominees. A bit disappointing considering just how hard this guy has grafted throughout his career to become one of the top strikers.

    What with it being a World Cup year, the list of nominees was obviously going to be dominated by those who upped their game over the summer. England were rubbish, no English teams excelled in European competitions either, so that adds up to no token nomination for the usual suspects, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard or Wayne Rooney, despite his domestic heroics last season.

    Ronaldo has been great so far this season. Racing Santander were hardly the most steadfast in defence, but you can only, well, destroy what's put in front of you. He's scored basically a goal a game for Real Madrid, he's playing for one of the best managers in the business and he's still a relatively young guy, impressive stuff!

    In fact, last season, despite a few injuries he played a huge part in the Real Madrid side that would have broken a whole raft of La Liga records had it not been for those pesky kids from Barcelona. Anything after Manchester United a step down? Poppycock!

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  • 64. At 6:18pm on 26 Oct 2010, nadalsergio wrote:

    it should go to sneijder,xavi or iniesta, they had a great season with country and club,luckily there only seven players from spain it, you could also pick,picque and sergio ramos, but i they picked puyol because he made that goal in the semi-finals,Gyan is in their so you have three african players. All european top leagues players are nominated, i think rooney poor world cup,and the early exit in champions league cost him point, in 2006 cannavaro got the award for best player of the year and he was only good in World cup. Ronaldo and Messi played in the second best competion of europe.

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  • 65. At 6:24pm on 26 Oct 2010, Tea Time At Harrods wrote:

    The reality is that the premiership has been relegated to 2nd or even 3rd place in global popularity.None of the truly majestic players want to play in England and those that are here simply want to get out.Spain and Italy will always be more desirable for the top class-when one has a choice,who wants to play under grey skies in the rain and sleet for 4 months of the year and indulge in appalling cuisine and cold culture.the fact that someone like Richard Scuddermore fails to see that too is laughable.

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  • 66. At 6:36pm on 26 Oct 2010, Paulio518 wrote:

    Why on earth has Ashley Cole been left out? He was by far the best English player at the World Cup and is definitely one of if not the best left backs in the world.

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  • 67. At 6:40pm on 26 Oct 2010, j123 wrote:

    Why isn't ny1 talkin about the PL representatives??
    Drogba had a great season scoring 44 with 11 assists in just 48 starts... and he has already racked up 6 goals with 5 assists in 8 this season..
    Besides, he became the first player from an African nation to score against Brazil in a World Cup match.. that shud count 4 sumthin.. :)
    Go PL!!

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  • 68. At 6:41pm on 26 Oct 2010, jeffjeff wrote:

    Kamil Zayatte..

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  • 69. At 6:45pm on 26 Oct 2010, nadalsergio wrote:

    i think sneijder should get the ballon d'or, or elses xavi or iniesta, if they included puyol, also ramos or pique should be nominated, but puyol made a important goal that leads his country to final. Messi and ronaldo had a bad world cup, english players were not got enough this season. they based on the worl cup i think

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  • 70. At 6:48pm on 26 Oct 2010, Haks wrote:

    A big mention should go to the Salamanca player Miguel Garcia who suffered a heart attack during a game.

    The medical team should get some recognition at the FIFA gala.

    Watch the video on youtube!!!!

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  • 71. At 6:48pm on 26 Oct 2010, Worldfan wrote:

    Brilliant blog Phil.

    Agreed that the main protagonists will be Xavi, Iniesta and Sneijder with Forlan and possibly Messi in there too.

    For those that say this award makes no sense simply don't know anything. 90% of times the winner of the Ballon D'or (in it's former guise) goes to the rightful winner. In a World Cup year it's usually skewed which we've all come to accept.FIFA's award was always a dubious one based on it's voting methodology as often the winner was essentially the most popular player considering obscure nations had an equal vote and may not see as much of the world game as more larger nations (ignorant perhaps).

    Anyway, agreed Rooney should've been included for his domestic achievements but he shouldn't be anywhere near the winners. Torres shouldn't be in because he's been average by his own high standards.
    The Premier League is over-hyped, self indulged and well marketed and as you say it's a great spectacle but i don't think the fact United lost in the latter stages affected Rooney's inclusion or lack of.

    It cracks me up that some blinkered fans say Messi did nothing in the World Cup and Rooney came up against the world's best in South Africa. If you consider having the most shots on goal and on target and a couple assists as being poor then i'm not sure you understand the game but granted Messi didn't score and could've only been better had he scored. I'd have to say that the best defenders Rooney faced in his career weren't playing for Algeria, Slovenia and USA or even Germany!

    The fact that the voting method incorporates the FIFA method and France Football Magazine's method will make this award quite an interesting one. I think we should all spare a thought for Messi who probably wont get it although he scored 47 goals for one of the best club teams in world football..not the 34 goals that Rooney scored in his best season EVER that everyone's getting excited about or the 33 that Ronaldo scored in an injury ravaged season but 47 to equal Ronaldo's (Brazilian)Barca club record.But Sneijder achieved more and had an amazing impact on Inter in his first season in Italian football.

    Lets be honest, with the exception of what Lampard (30 goals), Ashley Cole (world class most of the season) and Rooney (34 goals) did last season and possibly Tevez (29 goals) is there really any player from the Premier League who deserves to be on the list? We have all identified the handful of players we think the winner will come from anyway and these players aren't amongst them.

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  • 72. At 6:51pm on 26 Oct 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    It has to be Messi for me. He scored 47 goals and had a massive number of assists. At one point last season he scored 11 goals in 5 matches. He became Barcelona's highest goal scorer of all time for the CL, overtaking Rivaldo; he was the first player to score back to back hat tricks in La Liga; scored 4 goals in one match against Arsenal (one of the best teams in the world); he scored 34 league goals in a single season to put him at par with the great Ronaldo, and only 4 shy of the highest number scored. When it comes to Messi, we want more and more. Looks like Messi has his own standard to be judged by. With all respect to Snijder, Messi is in another world. Snijder played his best football, Messi did not play his best, but he was miles ahead of anyone else.

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  • 73. At 6:55pm on 26 Oct 2010, exxyeddie wrote:

    re banclattenburg #46:
    Totally agree. Ronaldo scored nearly a goal a game last season and already is top of the pops this. There is only Messi and Ronaldo who should win this. you cannot base the world cup as criteria here. Maradona and Fergies mate as national managers conributed to a muted world cup for Messi and Ronaldo. As for the premier league, when Giggs and Scholes can still run the show, what do you expect. Look back in history and think Strachan, Waddle, Sheringham all running the show as oldies. Since Ronaldo and Henry quit there is no genuine all round matchwinner. Drogba and Rooney are centre forwards (albeit mighty fine ones). Oh for Cantona, Bergkamp and Zola.

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  • 74. At 6:57pm on 26 Oct 2010, Davey Bones wrote:

    We all know that there is an inherent dislike of the English on the European mainland, so we should not be surprised by this list. The Premier League is undoubtedly the strongest League in the world. Despite the obvious strength of the top two in La Liga after those two you have no team that would make the top half of the Premiership. As for Italy, Inter would make the top four, even though they somehow won the CL last season that's as good as they are.

    The Premier League is not as strong as it was but I'm sure it will be again in the near future and at the end of this season I expect English teams to be well represented in the last four of the CL. That will upset the UEFA hierarchy even more.

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  • 75. At 6:59pm on 26 Oct 2010, Spaced Invader wrote:

    Stevat wrote:
    'Totally agree with the list, but I think it's just reflective of football now. The best players in the world play in Spain, Italy and Germany now.'

    Twaddle. Fabregas, Torres, Rooney, A Cole, Gerrard, Drogba, Essien, Vidic, Tevez, Arshavin, Van Persie, Modric, Evra, Anelka and Berbatov (just as a small randomn selection) prove how pointless your comment is. Only Bayern in Germany can attract world class players in their prime, and frankly as a long time lover of Serie A I'm saddened by the boring, ageing game it has become (as, evidently, are Italian fans). Barcelona and Real Madrid lead European football right now, but La Liga is no more diverse or interesting than the Old Firm battle.

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  • 76. At 7:01pm on 26 Oct 2010, IONJAY wrote:

    For me it has to be between Iniesta or Sneijder! Both were fantastic at club level last season and both had hugely successful world cups!

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  • 77. At 7:02pm on 26 Oct 2010, colmkav wrote:

    Never quite sure over what period the players are being evaluated. If its last season (including world cup) rather than the calendar year then Rooney clearly should have been nominated. Poor in the world cup but he was probably top 3 in terms of club performances. Similarly Tevez should definitely have been nominated.

    Berbatov is a strange suggestion whatever the period. Hes only played well for the last 2 months.

    If its for the calendar year then they should wait until January.

    I hate these awards anyway as they are usually just awarded to overhyped high profile players. Beckham came 2nd place once which shows what a joke they awards can be because he was never even one of the best 5 players in his team never mind anything else. Gyan illustrates this also. He presumably got it because Suarez saved that goalbound shot against Ghana. Suarez of course should definitely have been nominated. He had a sensational season for Ajaz and world cup.

    I assume Forlan was nominated after his world cup?

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  • 78. At 7:05pm on 26 Oct 2010, yeobrook wrote:

    A reasonable article expressing the obvious, and its no surprise that there are only 3 uk based players shortlisted.
    All the players from uk teams has shockers at the world cup and league, which would have affected their positions on the list and of course the rest are, well Who are they !!!?
    Just look each day at the gossip section in BBC/football and see the listed targets for clubs in the transfer market, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!!
    There must be English talent out there for the prem. league clubs.
    Its a shame player choice is dominated by the spell of a continental name or the fact he has played for a team with euro / south American connection,

    Bring on the British players, get them into the Premier League, pluck them from the lower leagues play them in the championship, Get them in to the national teams, Lets have success with our own, then you might see British based players on the list and with any luck they will be home grown talent.

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  • 79. At 7:14pm on 26 Oct 2010, Patrick_in_NY wrote:

    Phil, I find it quite funny that you're surprised the Premier League didn't have more representatives and then you suggest Rooney as one who maybe should have been included? Really? That's the best you've got? Tevez maybe but Rooney had a dreadful 2010. Remember this is calendar year 2010 not 2009-10.

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  • 80. At 7:21pm on 26 Oct 2010, Sedifet wrote:

    Just watched the heart attack on youtube here
    Really horrible to see. Can't really see what the doctor does but agreed, he deserves an award. That really is chilling stuff.

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  • 81. At 7:30pm on 26 Oct 2010, stevieGangster wrote:

    I believe that more stories like this doctor's exist. Amazing Plays should be honored before amazing players are. As well as TEAM accomplishments, there is no sport in the world more TEAM orientated than football. Lets start honoring those achievements.

    The doctor, the ball boys, the fans, are all part of a TEAM, why does so much stock go into a players accomplishments when he is doing a job for a TEAM?

    No real great answer, except the world is consumed by greed and idolizing those that can do what we are too lazy to try.

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  • 82. At 7:34pm on 26 Oct 2010, Worldfan wrote:

    just so some people know, this is a new award which is the combination of two older awards; FIFA world Player of the Year and the European Footballer of the Year.

    FIFA's World Player of the year has been around since 1991 and is an award given annually to the male player who is thought to be the best in the world, based on votes by managers and captains of international teams. In a voting system based on positional voting, each coach gets three votes, worth 5 points, 3 points and 1 point, and the winners are ordered based on total number of points. Essentially this is a popularity contest as there are 204 National teams under the FIFA umbrella.

    The Ballon D'or was conceived by the Editor of France Football Magazine to honour the best European player and was first awarded to Sir Stanley Matthews in 1956. Originally, journalists could only vote for European players at European clubs so Pele and Maradona have never won it, hence Platini won in 1986 and not Diego.In 1995, there was a change in the rules to allow non-European players to be eligible for the award if they played for a European club, hence George Weah won it that year whilst playing for Milan.The rules were changed again in 2007 so that players of any nationality and from any club around the world could be eligible for the award. As a result, the number of journalists allowed to vote also increased; 96 journalists from around the world chose their top five players, as opposed to the 52 Europe based journalists in 2006.

    Since the changes the winner is usually the best player with arguably the only exception being in 1996 when Matthias Sammer took the award by 1 point ahead of Ronaldo.

    I think some folks need to understand what we're talking about and the history of these awards and stop talking from your blinkered Premier league goggles.

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  • 83. At 7:36pm on 26 Oct 2010, alb wrote:

    Can't believe people are suggesting Rooney, it's player of the year not player of the firt 3 months. Also think some people need to broaden their horizons, it is incredible to read people suggesting that Zidane, Ronaldinho and Cannavaro did not deserve to win their awards when they did. Whilst Henry was incredible at his peak and often in the top 3 was unlucky to come up against some all time greats in the form of their lives. As for Scholes unfortunately he has been generally under-rated (although this has often been domestically, as many great players have commented on his brilliance from foreign leagues) but he hasn't been in the same league as Zidane, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Cannavaro, Messi, Ronaldo 1, Ronaldo 2, over the years.

    For me over the last year I would say Messi is still be the best player in the world, he can do anything and everything on the pitch. However it seems the world cup will have the biggest influence and Messi was held back by a poor squad and poor management. Therefore I think the most likely candidate over the year would be Sneijder, Xavi, Iniesta and Robben, in that order.

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  • 84. At 7:36pm on 26 Oct 2010, Worldfan wrote:

    **correction, Platini didn't win in 1986, Igor Belanov did but you get the point about Diego Maradona's European ineligability that year

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  • 85. At 7:41pm on 26 Oct 2010, Paparock wrote:

    ......what a joke! Diego Forlan deserves this year's award by far because, he won the player of the tournament (MVP) in South Africa by taking his country to the semis. For his club, he led Athletico Madrid to win the Europa cup by defeating fulham fc in the finals and again, led them to beat Inter for the European super cup....he needn't do more to win it....the best candidate by far.

    As for Asamoah Djan's inclusion, fifa is justified as he performed very well for his club last season and took Ghana - the only African side-to the quarter-finals losing out on penalties only to Diego forlan's Uruguay. He deserves to be there...

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  • 86. At 7:44pm on 26 Oct 2010, Benj wrote:

    Wayne Rooney wins the Football Writers' Association's Footballer of the Year, the PFA Players' Player of the Year & the PFA Fans' player of the year in one of the best three leagues in the world - yet Sunderland substitue Asamoah Gyan managed to score 3 goals at a not very entertaining World Cup and gets in the Ballon d'Or World Player of the Year Nominees? What a joke. I'm not saying Rooney should win it because I don't think he should but to not include him at all? What a shambles. Same goes for D.Milito, Higuain, Piqué, A.Cole & Lucio. Absolutely ridiculous.
    All ranting & anger aside - Iniesta or Sneijder to win it. Both simply outstanding. Both win their domestic leagues. One wins the Champions League while the other wins the World Cup. Really hard to seperate the two! (wouldn't complain if Messi won it either - his statistics are incredible, almost unbelievable).

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  • 87. At 7:52pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ahmad Bashir wrote:

    Well, this is modern footy, very disappointing. Even Diego Milito is not listed. And Alonso? too bad. I just can't believe all this.

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  • 88. At 7:55pm on 26 Oct 2010, coventryyank wrote:

    The only English player I feel deserved a nomination this year was Ashley Cole, even after spending 3+ months on the bench w/ a broken ankle. I can't think of a better left back at the professional level these days. At 29 he is still a workhorse, just as threatening up front as he is in back. He was also one of, if not the only solid player for England in the WC. Is he best in the world? No, but he deserves a nod.

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  • 89. At 8:05pm on 26 Oct 2010, Unbiased_Educator wrote:

    Personally, I would have omitted
    Carles Puyol and perhaps even
    Cesc, who was in great form at
    Arsenal (so I'm guessing that Fifa
    must have occasionally been
    looking at Premier League
    matches last season) but a much
    more marginal figure in South
    Africa, only appearing as a
    substitute in four games.

    Typical anti Arsenal journalism. Who changed the game in WC finals and got the assit? Fabregas.

    For the award itself

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  • 90. At 8:06pm on 26 Oct 2010, Fortress Lamex wrote:

    Ronaldo and Drogba should not be on the list. Drogba albeit had a good last season but failed to have any effect in the world cup. Ronaldo is the same story.

    If they want to base their decisions on the World Cup and include players like Gyan (no offence to him) then perhaps Khune and Suarez should be in the running.

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  • 91. At 8:08pm on 26 Oct 2010, whatdoiknowaboutanything wrote:

    Like so many, thnk these awards are a waste of time. In particular 2006 when it was won by Cannivaro, who did nothing at club level, but was the world cup winning captian over Henry, WC finalist, CL finalist, Pl top scorer, etc.

    Wht would make far more sense is the best 11 - which isn't necessarily just the best 11 players. Some proper thought to players in a formation that makes sense.

    Then out of that 11, who would have the honour of captaining the side.

    That way, you do pick out the best 11 players in the world, players like Cole, Bale, Nasri might get a look in, and you have to make sensible choices (you can't pick Rooney, Kaka, Messi, Tevez, Villa, Drogba in one side).

    Decent debate and team, and one person honoured but recognises that they are still part of the team.

    Then again, sounds far too sensible for FIFA. Why not pick names blindfolded? Or even better get the refrees to pick the side - they never see anything that matters!!!

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  • 92. At 8:09pm on 26 Oct 2010, Gavelaa wrote:

    Messi has to win it. It is an award based on what happened in the previous season, with any summer tournaments a bonus.

    Messi, 47 goals leading his team to a title and 99 points. Most influential player in the world, bar none.

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  • 93. At 8:09pm on 26 Oct 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    If this award is for the best player of the World Cup 2010 then it should go to Forlan. If it is for the best overall player during 2009/2010, it should go to Messi - nobody can argue with his stats. Otherwise give it to Gyan. The man is a legend..

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  • 94. At 8:10pm on 26 Oct 2010, forestrock wrote:

    A few words Gareth Bale, Mueller, Forlan, Suarez

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  • 95. At 8:11pm on 26 Oct 2010, Fortress Lamex wrote:


    That's a good idea.

    Instead though pick two teams of 11.

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  • 96. At 8:15pm on 26 Oct 2010, forestrock wrote:

    missed one scweinesteiger

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  • 97. At 8:23pm on 26 Oct 2010, Kess wrote:

    I think Wesley Sneiders shud be the undisputed winner. Considering his splendid performance in club and country.

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  • 98. At 8:31pm on 26 Oct 2010, Ferry_Arab wrote:

    Having just looked at the full list of nominees, I have to echo some of the more recent comments and express stupefaction at the exclusion of Suarez from the list of nominees - was he not on a goal every game for Ajax? Couple that with an excellent World Cup and I can't believe he's not even made the shrtlist!

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  • 99. At 8:42pm on 26 Oct 2010, Thomondstreasure wrote:

    Fair play to the doctor,swift thinking saved the players life.The only player I would have added to the list is Luis Suarez.Didn't he get 48 goals in 49 games for Ajax last year?That is some acheivement he also had a great world cup(albeit marred by the handball,a possible reason for his exclusion)Pique should be in there instead of Puyol.I bet Fergie is annoyed he let Pique go!

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  • 100. At 8:44pm on 26 Oct 2010, Fred wrote:

    Britain (any of the home nations) just doesn't have the talent these days to have any candidates in these competitions. In fact, the domestic game is, in my opinion, in a right mess. I think the Rooney fiasco and his quite unbelievable and scandalous pay packet amply demonstrates this.

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  • 101. At 9:14pm on 26 Oct 2010, TheScarletPimpernel wrote:

    Don't expect the situation to change anytime soon...Thanks to the 50% tax bracket this lot fall into...A reason for Rooney's rumblings last week perchance?

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  • 102. At 9:24pm on 26 Oct 2010, john85 wrote:

    first of all the inclusion of Gyan is an absolute joke, let me get that one out the way! the debate itself seems to have turned into who has the best league. The premier league has always had an over inflated opinion of itself but seems to have become more competitive in the last couple of years rather than the mid noughties when it was just Chelsea and United. People have been fawning over La Liga but it is now no more than a glorified SPL with Real and Barca smashing everyone in sight, whereas compare this to 10 or so years ago when the likes of Valencia, Deportivo and Villareal were competitive and in the case of the first two even winning La Liga, this is not the case anymore.
    Despite Inter being European champions, Serie A has been poor for a number of years now, how many Italians are in the Inter squad? and former powerhouses such as Milan and Juventus are shadows of their former selves.
    The place to look out for now is the Bundesliga, a great national side, excellent young players and sold out grounds (notice the increasing number of empty seats in EPL games), it may be the Germans turn to have the best league in the world.

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  • 103. At 9:31pm on 26 Oct 2010, L-M-R FC wrote:

    do defenders or keepers ever win these things? arbitrarily midfielders and especially strikers will score more, create more, have more flair, do the more memorable stuff etc so you would expect them to dominate. i dont know much about previous winners of player of the year and the ballon d'or but have there been many defenders or keepers, or even any, to win it? and is there a similar competition (if thats the right word for it) that picks specifically the best keeper, defender, midfielder, and striker - or a best 11?

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  • 104. At 10:03pm on 26 Oct 2010, Whiteside of 606 wrote:

    No big mystery about it. The benchmark is the Champions League and World Cup.

    English teams underperformed in the CL and we'd best forget about the World Cup.

    Clearly, the favorites have to be from Inter Milan's treble side or Spain's WC winning team.

    I can't think of any individual apart from maybe Messi (for Barca more than Argentina) who stood out above anyone in those sides.

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  • 105. At 10:12pm on 26 Oct 2010, Toms Thoughts wrote:

    The absence of english players on the shortlist is completely justified in my opinion, aside from the exclusion of Wayne Rooney. Despite this year's slow start, he is undoubtedly one the top 10 players in the world (never mind the top 23). Look no further than last season, in which he inspired a below-par Manchester United squad to finish within one point of Chelsea in the league.

    The fact that I've spent several lines rambling about the mis-inclusion of one English player speaks volumes about the lack of any real home-grown talent that can even challenge for the award. This however is not suprising considering England's dissapointing World Cup campaign and the increasing foriegn flavour of the Premiership...

    1. Andres Iniesta
    2. Wesley Sneijder
    3. David Villa

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  • 106. At 10:43pm on 26 Oct 2010, bido_fawzy wrote:

    This competition doesn’t make sense, who did know these players before the world cup???
    1- Asamoah Gyan
    2- Thomas Mueller
    3- Mesut Oezil
    And other players like Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm didn’t have the greatest session comparing to Rooney I think this competition is for the best in the last 12 month not who played well for 1 month (in the world cup).

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  • 107. At 11:04pm on 26 Oct 2010, tigercity wrote:

    Higuian, Forlan or Nick Barmby for me...

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  • 108. At 11:04pm on 26 Oct 2010, henry1422 wrote:

    I really think Xavi should get it, since he's showing how important he is to making the whole Barcelona team tick from his absences earlier this season. He has been pivotal to the success of both Barcelona and Spain this year and in previous years and as he'll probably never have a chance to win it again as he's about to hit 30, it seems a good time to give it to him.

    If not him, Messi or Iniesta should win.

    Iniesta, really just for the same reasons as Xavi (why I think Xavi should edge it is that he's been doing it already for years and hasn't been lucky enough to take the award yet). I have a feeling Iniesta might just get handed the award for his winning goal in the World Cup, it seems like the type of thing a player needs to do (grab a big moment in a big game) to win this award.

    The thing about Messi however, is that we expect him to be fantastic, so it may be easy to look past the fact that he is in fact the best player in the world and was the top scorer in La Liga last year by 7 goals, while also winning the European Golden Boot, and that's just as a winger. He was also joint second on assists (Xavi was top of the assists table, and has been consistently for a number of years).

    After watching C. Ronaldo against AC Milan, he's a great player but his whining, diving, exaggerating and bad attitude make me less inclined to want to him as the model professional of the game. I'd rather have my kids looking up to 3 other guys I said than the likes of Ronaldo. Also, while he's skillful, the fact of the matter is that Messi is simply better than C. Ronaldo.

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  • 109. At 11:13pm on 26 Oct 2010, SportsFan wrote:

    Its no surprise not even a single English player was chosen. This reflects a poor year for all English players in both World Cup and Champions League. In the current year, Spain players have been excellent in both WC and CL competitions and deserve it.

    The PL, needs to sort out its youth system and bring more players into first teams and make them player regular football for their clubs. This is just not happening now. Too many foreign players are making the PL a lot better but at the same time shows how poor England players are performing. England players are not as talented as they used to be.

    PL should introduce quote for each club of 7H and 4F players and then England players can get better and hopefully be world class.

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  • 110. At 11:18pm on 26 Oct 2010, Crystalyze wrote:

    I fancy Xavi, Iniesta, Sneijder, Schweinsteiger and Ozil to make the top 5. Xavi and Iniesta have been the best midfielders in the world for some time now, Xavi probably being the better but Iniesta had the better World Cup. Sneijder and Schweinsteiger's successes both in the CL and WC make me think they'd be rounded favourites, as they were the heart of the respective teams. Ozil because of his memorable WC performance and on recent form, I'd say that he's been Real's best player this season over Ronaldo.
    I don't think that the Ballon d'Or is a stupid award, but I do think it's at the wrong time, surely it would make more sense to hold it at the beginning of August so the past season is fresher in your mind, then you base it on the season rather than the year, which is just awkward looking at the European football calendar.
    Asamoah Gyan should not be in that list, he's simply not good enough, depsite his WC performance, had it been Torres, Arshavin or even Fabiano in that team they would/could have done a better job, he's just in the right place to receive the accolade.
    With the exceptions of Rooney, Cole and possibly Vermaelen and Anelka (who is seriously underrated) I can understand why the Premier League has been so under represented, Chelsea, the only stand out team of last season, were good more because of team discipline and experience rather than individual brilliance - which is also why there are more Germans in that list that Dutch men, despite the Dutch being finalists their only other WC star Van Persie, had a torrid, injury-ridden season.
    I think Thomas Muller may be one of the most underrated players - by the English - he's a better player than Wayne Rooney, and his performances in the CL and WC proved that. I imagine next year, when it's solely based on CL and domestic form, we'll see PL stars like Nasri, Berbatov and Bale back in the nominations.

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  • 111. At 11:29pm on 26 Oct 2010, dmaunsell wrote:

    It's a strange one for me, the lack of premier league or even english players, when you look at some of the players on the list.

    Wayne Rooney had the season of his life last year, as did Carlos Tevez.

    Ashley Cole was outstanding and Frank Lampard scored 22 league goals and provided 17 assists!!

    Then you can look at the likes of Malouda and Nani who have both shone, Vidic and Evra?

    Gyan's inclusion is obviously on the back of his average world cup performace, so why is Javier Hernandez not included? his performace was arguably better.

    even premier league newbie Van Der Vaart.

    it seems the list is based on the champions league and world cup, which is still strange not to see wayne rooney on it, he tore apart milan and even bayern munich before his injury.

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  • 112. At 11:35pm on 26 Oct 2010, dmaunsell wrote:

    also luis suarez!! just for his goalkeeping exploits alone .... which may be the reason he's not on the list ... good on him i say, i would have caught it to save england going out the world cup!!

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  • 113. At 11:43pm on 26 Oct 2010, Cesc_Torres_vs_CR7 wrote:

    I am not surprised Cesc is on the list. Barca have six of them and a least 4 are very serious contenders. But then, they are obsessed with one Mr Fabregas. At his best before he got injured, he was untouchable. He also did the business when required at the World Cup. As for Drogba, he has deserved to win it for a while now and should always be on the list. Next season? Ronaldo, Messi, Nasri, Eto, Torres, Hernandez, Ozil, Drogba again? I don't expect Xavi or Iniesta though. This season will be hard for them.

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  • 114. At 11:47pm on 26 Oct 2010, Cesc_Torres_vs_CR7 wrote:

    My top 5 pick for last season: Messi, Sneider, Forlan, Robben, Iniesta. This season so far: Messi, Ronaldo, Ozil, Nasri, Malouda.

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  • 115. At 00:11am on 27 Oct 2010, MarkDancePt2 wrote:

    Xabi Alonso (Spain), Daniel Alves (Brazil), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Diego Forlan (Uruguay), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Julio Cesar (Brazil), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Maicon (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Muller (Germany), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Carles Puyol (Spain), Arjen Robben (Holland), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Holland), David Villa (Spain) and Xavi (Spain).

    Phil Minshull: "If playing in the World Cup was an unspoken criteria for being on shortlist, it seems completely unfair to exclude the likes of Dimitar Berbatov or Andrey Arshavin just because of where they happened to be born."

    ... Dimitar Berbatov? Are you having a laugh?? I always thought that one of the main activities in football was to tackle opposing players. When did Dimitar ever do this? When did Ronald McDonaldo ever do this? He only gets on these lists and scores so many goals, because opposing players are scared of tackling him (am I the only one who has noticed that any time any opposing player goes anywhere near him, he dives and tries to get a free-kick/penalty for himself, or a yellow/red card for the player who dared enter his personal space?).

    Players like Pele and Bobby Moore (if he's looking down now) must be ashamed.

    In my opinion, the best player in the English Premiership last season was Joe Hart. But because he wasn't playing for a London club or Man U, he would never get nominated for these awards.

    End of rant.

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  • 116. At 00:25am on 27 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    Full credit to you Phil simply for bringing Sr. Calero's action to public attention. This is what good sports journalism is all about and too often the real heroes go unmentioned.
    As for the World Player of the Year Award, as I understand it, the dominant issues are contributions to the various clubs' end of year trophy cabinets and, in a World Cup year, to WC performances. So current form would have no bearing on the short-list.
    Rooney may have been high on the list prior to the WC, but shot it to pieces with performances that had people wondering whether he still knew how to control a football - not a good time to go forcing the issue over improved contractual terms, unless the whole thing has been stage managed.
    Drogba had a fantastic PL season, but so did several others, who also added to their prestige in SA, so I don't see him making the top three, which I predict will be Messi, Iniesta and either Xavi or Sneijder.

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  • 117. At 00:31am on 27 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 11: yes indeed, like Algeria and team USA.

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  • 118. At 00:37am on 27 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    Oh and re 116, Forlan and Eto'o as outsiders.

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  • 119. At 01:12am on 27 Oct 2010, chris wrote:

    i disagree slightly with the shortlist. i would have bale, lucio, vidic, van der Vaat and possibly scholes. fabregas possibly should be in it. but i think the fact his role in spain's world cup was periphery suggests someone else from the team should be in it. i get the feeling that they were adding eto, drogba and gyan, for the sake of having african players in the list. drogba was not great in w/c and had an average (by his standards) season. they could have awarded his place to a handful of players in the premier league or any other division. Gyan is a great player but whether he deserves his place there is more than questionable. if someone was asked to name the top 3 premier league players. would you be surprised to hear Fabregas, gyan and drogba? i would definitely raise an eyebrow to the mention of gyan's name. even though i was absolutely impressed with his w/c performance. i think that the 3 top premier league players just from big spenders and last yrs top 4 could come from a pool of.

    Arsenal: walcott, fabregas and van persie
    chelsea: Cech, Cole and Drogba
    Man Utd: Berbatov, Vidic and Scholes
    Man City: Milner, Tevez and Hart
    Tottenham: Van Der Vaat, Bale and King

    i have left Rooney out because of poor form 2 goals in 11 is dreadful even by a striker at any level. i just hope that he has not peaked yet.

    my top 3 would be Milner, Tevez and Bale or A. Cole

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  • 120. At 05:49am on 27 Oct 2010, caymankai wrote:

    Frankly who cares its just a pointless excercise !!

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  • 121. At 06:47am on 27 Oct 2010, Fesman wrote:

    i need to understand how the come up with this list, it seems it was done based on the world cup, because i don't think players like ozil, who had a terrific world, came close to what players like rooney and drogba did in the premiership. in as much as disagree with the list i think apart from messi and ronaldo, rooney was among the best three footballers in the world last season and deserves to be on that list, asamoah Gyan? come on FIFA, lets not be biased. and in the past FIFA's blatter has shown how he has issues against English football.

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  • 122. At 08:15am on 27 Oct 2010, collie21 wrote:

    Completely agree Calero should be awarded. No debate necessary. As for Gyan on the list? Why not, he had a terrific world cup and stood out as the Man who almost ( that penalty) got his team to the the World cup final.
    As for lack of premiership players, why not? What is it really that makes the English think the premier league has the best players or best football or best teams? I am fan of the premier league but in the last 10 years only a handful of representatives perhaps 3 or 4 have stood out in 2 European competitions. Last year Fulham got to a final. Are you going to tell me Danny Murphy is as good as Mesi now? Coaches can only vote on the players they see, they haven't seen too many English based ones. Oh The harsh reality of not being the best.

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  • 123. At 08:45am on 27 Oct 2010, steffig7 wrote:

    I know he had a good World Cup and scored the winner in the final but Iniesta played very little throughout the season for Barca as he was injured. Too much emphasis is placed on the World Cup performances at these awards this year which is also clearly advantageous to certain players who's teams participated in South Africa

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  • 124. At 08:48am on 27 Oct 2010, Ad wrote:

    Hats off to Tomas Calero, it's good to be reminded that in such extreme circumstances, team allegiances matter not an ounce.

    Club doctors (whether helping the opposition or not) are without doubt the unsung heros within the club squad of players and management. It reminds me of Djibril Cisse's broken leg at Blackburn when the Liverpool club doctor Mark Waller had to twist his leg back round to re-engage the blood flow otherwise it would likely have been amputated....

    .... and I bet they don't get paid £250k a week!!

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  • 125. At 08:51am on 27 Oct 2010, ordiokid wrote:

    Really and truly, there should never be any english players on the list. Thsi list is basically a list of World Class players with a few exceptions, such as Gyan.

    It therefore follows, as England have no World Class players, then they should not be on the list. It's a harsh statement, but still very true. The next time we see an English player on that list is likely to be Jack Wilshere and that will be some years away.

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  • 126. At 08:55am on 27 Oct 2010, SS11 wrote:

    Hey Phil, It's been a few years now since the rest of Europe, Spain especially has dominated over England and Premier league. And there is no surprise that majority of English talent want to trade their exploits abroad in Spain & Germany, just because they are a better footballing nations.

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  • 127. At 08:56am on 27 Oct 2010, billysere wrote:

    People remember the african players at the tournament had the weight of a continenant on their shoulders and of all the stars of african football gyan and ghana stood up and shouldered alot of the weight when the rest went out!

    ALthough milito had a great club season you cant expect to be nominated when you cant make your national XI, can you imagine?...I won player of the year but i couldnt even make the first XI of my national team!

    I think the premier league has been largel over rated by a number of journos, as shown by previous winners of such awards. In my living memory of football Beckam, Henry and Ronaldo were upto the standard of these awards in the premier league. Beckam and Henry were unlucky in that they came across a generation of stars (well Zidane and Ronaldo, who will go down as all time greats and anyone who remembers Ronaldinho when in full swing for those 2 or 3 seasons and still questions why henry didnt get the award needs their head checked.)

    Although the English teams have got far in champs league recently honestly speaking look how they do it;
    Arsenal; excellent football cant complain.
    Chelsea; very defensively minded and physical approach more about stopping opponents (may be about to change).
    Liverpool; same as chelsea just more boring, sorry rafa.
    United: against tougher opposition united (IMO) have had a tendency to first try and negate the free flowing football, i.e against arsenal sitting back and countering.

    The list is justified rooney 2 goals since march, you cant be serious his a striker. even taking into account the off season thats 5 months!

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  • 128. At 08:58am on 27 Oct 2010, SS11 wrote:

    As far as Ballon D'Or awards, I think the Final 3 contenders for the awards would be Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder and Andres Iniesta.

    I'd vote for Andres Iniesta.

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  • 129. At 09:02am on 27 Oct 2010, SS11 wrote:

    There's also the award for Coaches/Managers being introduced this year. The Top 3 contenders for that would be Joachim Loew, Vicente Del Bosque and Jose Mourinho.

    I'd vote for Joachim Loew.

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  • 130. At 09:04am on 27 Oct 2010, AMoore4 wrote:

    This is my top 23 in the world for over the last twelve months
    Dorgba, Rooney, Tevez, Messi, iniesta, xavi, pique, villa, C Ronaldo, Ramos, Ozil, Lucio, forlan, micon, cassilas, schnider, robben, ribery,julio caesar, malouda, fabregas, muller, eto. Anyone i have missed out or does anyone disagree with my selections?

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  • 131. At 09:05am on 27 Oct 2010, Julius Nepos wrote:

    The fact that there are hardly any players from the Premier League on the shortlist notwithstanding, there are some other things to consider:

    1. Looking at the squads of most of the established Premier League teams, how many of the players have been born in the UK? Not too many, you'll find, the Premier League is an incredibly strong competition, but this is mainly because most of the clubs spend incredible amounts of money to buy foreign stars into their lineups.
    The reason the English national side has been "not too impressive" over the last few decades is because of this, not enough talent comes up through the ranks, and even if it does, playing time is few and far between, exceptions to this only go to prove the rule.

    2. The Premier League (And the local "Eredivisie/Jupiler League" in my home country of the Netherlands.) Should really start to have a look at the financial health of the clubs participating, since as far as I can make out, money is flying out at an incredible rate, and hardly anything is coming in.

    I'm not an economist, but I can see that this can hardly be healthy, and obviously, before a club topples over, some rich business person will step in and buy the place. (Or as happens here, the local government will mutter some nonsense about the social importance of a local pro-football team and donate a wad of cash that they'll never get back.) In the end though, it can't be good for both the sport and the economy, and in these strained financial times, can you really look someone from Ethiopia or Eritrea in the eyes and say: "Yeah, apparently we've got the money to all watch football, support the clubs with community money, pay for the tickets, and cheer when some rich businessman saves our club from the brink.. But unfortunatly we've not got the resources to help you pay for a decent meal, and a drink of water, maybe a pint of beer if we're feeling generous."

    In order to make football healthy again, demand of clubs to make ends meet with a single sponsor, and the revenue they create through fans, and by seriously tuning down the wages these players earn, since it can't be good for a normal person to earn enormous amounts of money on a daily basis, especially for someone that comes from a modest social and economical background. (Think for a minute about all the off-pitch bad-boy antics that happen, think about that person's social standing before he became rich, and something will have to click in your mind. :P)

    3. Almost done now, promise. :P
    In any case, we had a case similar to that of Garcia on the Dutch fields a while back, Evander Sno (I think he played for Celtic at some point? Someone correct me if I'm wrong.) collapsed in a reserves match whilst playing for Ajax, and was also rushed to hospital, the medical staff of both teams reacted well though, and he lived to tell the tale, amazingly, he now stands to continue his career with an internal defibrilator built into his chest. (Personally, I'd count my blessings and call it quits, lol.)

    Anyways, thanks for reading through my rant, have a nice day. :P

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  • 132. At 09:07am on 27 Oct 2010, Carior wrote:

    The biggest football event in the world happened over the summer and no British player played (i dont count what england did as playing) so of course they aren't on the list. If you can name me one English player who has had a good 12 months then be my guest. Rooney has scored what twice since march so he's out, Gerrard Lamps etc aren't there and are past it and everyone else is either too poor or too inconsistent for both club and country.

    Add on to that that the premier league is regularly overlooked in these awards and the percentage in premier league winners is lower than it should be in comparison to say spain or italy and its not really that surprising.

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  • 133. At 09:16am on 27 Oct 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    how can it be that the Premier League, which is supposedly - whether it's according to the English football authorities, global TV ratings and merchandising revenues or just punters wearing rose-tinted spectacles - the strongest domestic league in the world
    World Cup years are always massively influenced by that one short period of 3-7 games, that's why.

    If you ignore the World Cup then plenty more EPL players would be on that list. Rooney for instance was fantastic, easily one of the top 3 in the world right up until his injury in March and would be on the list had he stayed at home injured instead of going to South Africa. Ashley Cole, Lampard and Malouda are in the same boat.

    The likes of Gyan, Ozil and Muller all had decent enough seasons for their clubs but nothing special. They have essentially been put on this list off the back of a handful of very good world cup performances. Miroslav Klose was not evena club regular and managed only 2 or 3 league goals all year.

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  • 134. At 09:16am on 27 Oct 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    If you can name me one English player who has had a good 12 months then be my guest. Rooney has scored what twice since march so he's out,
    Rooney had a far far better 12 months than Klose.

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  • 135. At 09:20am on 27 Oct 2010, Mustangy wrote:

    After all that information you could have told us how the winner is chosen... since before was elected by journalists and colleagues respectively ...
    Anyway, I think is perfectly normal that there are hardly any British representation... How many British players have attracted and played for foreign teams during the last seasons ?
    I can only think of David Beckham ... say no more

    I think that Wesley Sneijder will get it since he has played 4 finals and won the Serie A , although I would like to see Xavi Hernandez or Andres Iniesta win it. They have played consistently good football for a few years.

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  • 136. At 09:26am on 27 Oct 2010, LukeLovesLuka wrote:

    No Higuain, D.Milito, Pique, Malouda, A.Cole?

    What is Fabregas doing in there? Bench player for Spain and plays for a club that hasn't won anything in years. Gyan?? Average World Cup and he's in there?


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  • 137. At 09:35am on 27 Oct 2010, Brigadier wrote:

    Great article until - Cesc...marginal substitute. If only you had the patience to consider role he was brought in to play, at what juncture in the game, contributions to defence, attack, interceptions, assists, then may be you will have a sense why he always came in as substitute.

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  • 138. At 09:38am on 27 Oct 2010, Richard from Hampshire wrote:

    Phil,you sound surprised that no english players and few Premier league players made the short list. England were abysmal in the World Cup, no english team got to the semis of the Champions League. As one of the other writers here says, the top 4-6 teams in the Premier League are strong, but they have very little exceptional talent now and are weaker than 2-3 years ago. In 2010 Rooney has not played well for club or country since March when he got injured. 3 months good performance in 2010 is hardly sufficient to justify an annual award. By contrast Inter Milan won the treble. Barcelona won the Liga with highest ever number of points, narrowly lost the semis of Champions League to Inter, won the World Club Championship (admittedly in late December 2009)and provided 2/3 of the World Cup winning team. I think the short list is pretty fair !

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  • 139. At 09:38am on 27 Oct 2010, sportszombie wrote:

    the voters for the award I believe are head coaches of national teams. No wonder they give so much importance to WC, as most voters have only seen many of the players at the WC. Some national team coaches also follow Champs league but otherwise domestic league form is hardly ever noticed. Even a coach of a tiny nation has a vote irrespective of whether he followed the players or not. Many of the voters are only voting on reputations without even watching the players. No wonder Cannavaro won the award after the WC in 2006, or Ronaldo after the 2002 WC(missed 90% of club season) the WC was the only criteria behind that award. There is also a clear bias towards Primer Liga/Seria A, players from those 2 leagues seem to win 90% of the awards (some justified, some not).

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  • 140. At 09:43am on 27 Oct 2010, toms7 wrote:

    Is it just me who thinks that Florent Malouda deserves a mention? He was sensational last season for Chelsea in the EPL and was up there with Drogba for their player of the season.
    Surely he merits a place more than Gyan who is in purely because of the World Cup he had. To be fair i dont know why its called the "Ballon d'Or" why not just "World Cup 2010 player of the tournament"? Since thats that it seems they have based the nominations on.

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  • 141. At 10:07am on 27 Oct 2010, Chris wrote:

    43 goals and 13 assists in 47 games for Real Madrid is the reason why Ronaldo is nominated.

    But I suppose Gareth Bale should be there instead... ???

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  • 142. At 10:11am on 27 Oct 2010, OwainRichardson wrote:

    @AMoore4 (and others) Personally I wouldn't have picked Rooney becayse as far as I'm aware - he had a decent end to last season but since then has done simply nothing of any benefit for club or country!

    In terms of English players I think Ashley Cole was probably the best choice to make - but I would have loved to see welshman Bale make the list. As a solution - would it be sensible to introduce measures that were talked about a few years ago - and are currently very succesful in rugby i.e. regulating the number of non-British players in the squad as a start - and then possibly following the example of the all-blacks who never consider a player (for internationals) who is playing outside of new zealand (with only one exception in the history of the criteria).

    Another question I have is that despite Sneijder's undoubted superb year - would his discipline (I believe he was pointed out in the world cup for this sort of thing (along with the entire Dutch squad)) not hold him back? For me it makes Iniesta the favourite.

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  • 143. At 10:40am on 27 Oct 2010, Lanterne rouge wrote:

    Good blog, as usual.

    The simple fact is the Premiership is no longer the best league in the world. The media would make you think so - both Sky and the BBC have to maximise the promotion of their coverage - but the Premiership has become predictable, lacking in flourish and only attracts young stars who use it as a launch pad for better leagues and older stars who use it is a pension top up.

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  • 144. At 10:41am on 27 Oct 2010, Tom wrote:

    The majority of players on the list were from either - Bayern Munich who won the league and cup and were fianlists in CL, Inter who won the treble including CL, Barca who won the league, Chelsea who won the league & cup double, Spain who won WC, Holland who were WC finalists, Germany who were WC semi-finalists...

    While Inter had 4 players in the list, I see no one has mentioned that there were no Italians on the list...what does that say about Serie A? There were also no French players on the list...what does that say about Ligue 1? No surprise both France and Italy had awful world cups!

    England had an awful world cup to and no English teams were in the CL semi finals this surprise no English players...I think not!

    Though I do accept Ronaldo or Daniel Alves shouldn't be there too!

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  • 145. At 11:00am on 27 Oct 2010, guyastral wrote:

    The fact that there're no English players nominated does not surprise me at all, what I find really surprising, and Phil forgot to mention, is the fact that no Italian or French players were nominated given that these two countries were world cup champions not long ago.

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  • 146. At 11:03am on 27 Oct 2010, theonewhoknows wrote:

    so just cause lionel messi didnt have a good world cup he isnt the most naturally talented and gifted player in the world today, just cause somebody has a good world cup dosen't mean they are the best player in the world

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  • 147. At 11:10am on 27 Oct 2010, Stevat wrote:

    #75, you list the names of star players in England, some of whom have been poor for some time. Also, I regularly hear British fans make statements along the lines of 'Forlan was awful at Man U, just shows how poor La Liga is'. Yet how many of those players you've cited have done much in Europe? You could say Henry was awful at Juventus, and Vieira at AC Milan. Don't get me wrong, I think each league has it's merits, unfortunately the Premier League is mostly about power and physical presence rather than technical ability or tactical nous. In Germany, you've players like Dzeko and Grafite at Wolfsburg who are both superb, players like Hunt, Holtby, Marin, Podolski, Ibisevic and loads more at various teams who'd all be good players in the Premier League as well. To say it's a one team league is incredibly short sighted I'm afraid.

    Oh, and Italian football is on it's way back. I've watched a few games this season, and the level of attacking football from certain sides is fantastic. Again, each team throughout the league has creative flair players, something you can't say about the Premier League unfortunately.

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  • 148. At 11:20am on 27 Oct 2010, Were Ngoging to Ibiza wrote:

    If any player from the Premiership deserves to be considered it is Didier Drogba, his scoring record last season was second to none, 29 goals in 32 prem appearances, 37 goals in 44 overall for Chelsea, he is easily as good a player as the two supposed "Best players in the world" Ronaldo and Messi, hence Mourinho chasing him but not Rooney to spearhead the Madrid attack. Drogba has been striking fear into the hearts of the worlds best defences for years yet never gets a serious mention alongside Messi, Ronaldo or Kaka and I don't understand it. He scores in big games, something Ronaldo used to come under fire for not doing, he can score all types of goals like Ronaldo could, why is he not up there? Strange.

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  • 149. At 11:36am on 27 Oct 2010, MSM234 wrote:

    I think steven gerrard should have been included, he may have had a poor season with liverpool but he was the only player at liverpool who was actually playing well. Same goes at the world cup, he led england by example and did really well at the tournament

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  • 150. At 11:46am on 27 Oct 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    I am surprised that Andres Iniesta has so much support. Great player with a great touch and wonderful control, but people forget that he plays an attacking role in a 4-3-3 formation but scores next to nothing. The other member of the 4-3-3 formation, Messi, had 47 goals and 17 assists in 53 matches last season. Compare that to Iniesta! It would be absolutley ridiculous if Iniesta won it an not Messi.

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  • 151. At 11:56am on 27 Oct 2010, itsonlyagame - R9 The Number of the Beast wrote:

    As a Spaniard, my heart says give it to Xavi, but my head tells me that overall Wesley Sneijder had the most outstanding season of all.
    It's worth remembering that this award is for what the players achieved in 2010 (or, in our minds, in the 09/10 season) and not, unfrotunately for Xavi's interests, for the consistency of their performances over the past 2, 3 or 4 years.
    If the World Cup is the overriding consideration, then I'd have to say that Iniesta was Spain's most decisive player in South Africa, with David Villa not far behind. Xavi in fact had quite a modest World Cup - mainly due to the fact that virtually all of Spain's opponents specifically set out to negate his influence in midfield - which Del Bosque countered by playing 2 DM's to cover his back better, while providing a further outlet in Xabi Alonso for Spain's possession and build-up.
    In any case, I have the feeling that the sheer number of candidates from the Spain team will play into Sneijder's hands, as the 'Spanish' vote will probably be more divided. Sneijder should also be aided by the absence of Diego Milito, who is the only player imo who could have realistically taken part of the 'Inter' vote away from Sneijder, as well as the fact that Robben is the only other member of the Dutch squad that's made the shortlist.
    In terms of the PL, I agree with 148 that Drogba's has to be the most consipcuous absence, despite not being as much of a media favourite as Rooney.
    However, imo Diego Milito and Luis Suárez are the two most glaring ommissions. Fantastic seasons for both - I doubt that any player has ever produced as many crucial goals in a domestic and European season as Milito did, and the sheer number of goals Suárez scored (yes, albeit in the weaker Dutch league) along with the strike partnership he made with Forlán at the World Cup, are more than worthy of a mention.
    In fact, it's quite striking that Uruguay only have 1 nominee in that list considering their fantastic World Cup run. Gyan wouldn't have been my Ghanaian of choice either - I'd have gone for the youth and verve of André Ayew who, lest we forget, not only played very well at the World Cup, but also starred in Ghana's U-20 World Cup triumph earlier in the year.
    A clearly unpopular choice that imo would have deserved a mention is Mark Van Bommel. Realistically, what chance would Holland have had of reaching the World Cup final or Bayern Munich the Champions League final without one of the toughest midfield enforcers we've seen in a long time? Someone has to do the dirty work - and who else did it better?
    As for the Puyol/Piqué debate, I'm firmly on Puyol's side, if only for the leadership qualities he demonstrated at all times and for his scoring arguably the second-most crucial goal in Spain's footbal history.
    I might say Sergio Ramos could have deserved a mention too, for a fairly impeccable World Cup and a very solid season at Real Madrid, but that might just be pushing it a bit...

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  • 152. At 11:56am on 27 Oct 2010, Adam Elliott wrote:

    Firstly, Torres was injured for most of last season, benzema was awful and essien was injured. So stop saying that they should win. Messi should clearly win this award. No-one wants him to because he won it last year but he is by far the best candidate. Iniesta? He's good but he is another player who hardly played last season, he just scored in the WC final. Schneider, if that's how you spell his name, was excellent last season and he was in the WC final, which should help. Lucio was also stunning for Inter. Those three should really be the front runners for this award. Also, Messi didn't have a bad world cup by most standards. He got 4 assists in 5 games and was Argentina's best player. Did anyone even watch foot ball last season???

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  • 153. At 12:04pm on 27 Oct 2010, Stevat wrote:

    #148, Drogba is superb and should be considered up there with the best. One reason I think he isn't given the respect he deserves is because he is formidable due to his physical presence and powerful game and is technically inferior to the other players you mention. Doesn't make him any less effective though, just a different type of player. Same argument could be applied to defenders. Look at Carvalho for instance and the difference he has made at Madrid to see the importance of having good players all over the pitch.

    Would also add that while I enjoy watching Drogba and everyone can see how good a player he is, I'd much rather watch Messi dance round defenders, or Iniesta dodge a challenge and play someone in. Tis just my opinion, but that's one area I feel we lack in the Premier League, how many playmakers do we have now? Or indeed, have we ever had.

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  • 154. At 12:16pm on 27 Oct 2010, rafaelmac wrote:

    We know the title of the article says British players but we all know you mean English players, I don't understand what the fuss is about, The Premiership is vastly over-rated, and no player in this league even compares to the likes of Messi,Ronaldo or Iniesta, is it really that big a deal??

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  • 155. At 12:29pm on 27 Oct 2010, Lord Flash Hart Lane wrote:

    All these people calling for Rooney to be on there are wrong in my opinion. I think the simple fact that he has scored one goal (which was a pen) since March says why he ain't on there. Yes before that he was on fire but being on fire for half of the year can not justify his inclusion.

    For me the top 3 should be Sneijder, Iniesta & Forlan.

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  • 156. At 12:45pm on 27 Oct 2010, PrestonSpur wrote:

    Why, if the Premier League is so over-rated, has the Champions League latter stages been dominated by English teams in recent seasons?!

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  • 157. At 12:45pm on 27 Oct 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed and, in most cases, for making such high quality and considered comments.

    I’m not going to be able to look through over 140 comments in one go so I thought I’d initially start at the bottom and then go back to the top later.

    Collie21: “As for Gyan on the list? Why not, he had a terrific World Cup and stood out as the Man who almost (that penalty) got his team to the World Cup final.” Several others, including billysere, have also defended Gyan’s inclusion in the short-list. For me, the Ballon D’Or is about performance across the whole of the last season (even though the timing of the awards mean the timeframe under consideration tends to also overlap with the first few months of the following season), not just the World Cup. After all, FIFA have their own separate awards for the World Cup and this time around the Golden Ball went to Diego Forlan, the Silver Ball to Wesley Sneijder and the Bronze Ball to David Villa.

    The World Cup was obviously the biggest event on the football calendar this season but I think there has been a disproportionate bias towards it in the selection of this year's short list.

    Chris: “I would have Bale, Lucio, Vidic, van der Vaart and possibly Scholes.” I’d certainly consider having the first three on my ‘short list’. Van der Vaart was great at the World Cup and in recent weeks since his move to Tottenham but possibly didn’t see as many minutes on the pitch at Real (through no fault of his own), and despite a few great games, to justify being on many people’s hypothetical short list.

    Whiteside of Red: “No big mystery about it. The benchmark is the Champions League and World Cup.” You may be right but here’s a question to consider, and one to which I don’t have much of an answer. With Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Barcelona being so well represented, why wasn’t there a single player from the other Champions League semi final team, Lyon? Jeremy Toulalan might have been a bad lad in South Africa but he had an otherwise great season.

    Toms7: “Is it just me who thinks that Florent Malouda deserves a mention?” A good choice, although not an obvious one. He did well at Chelsea but possibly missed out owing to the fact that Chelsea went out of the Champions League quarter-finals and was one of the few French players who can say that they played well at the World Cup.

    Sportszombie “Even a coach of a tiny nation has a vote irrespective of whether he followed the players or not.” I’m all for democracy but, in the past, this has lead to some unusual choices getting votes. This is one of the reasons why FIFA has introduced a short list this year (there might have been one last year as well, I’d have to check).

    Steffig7. “I know he had a good World Cup and scored the winner in the final but Iniesta played very little throughout the season for Barca as he was injured.” I wouldn’t agree with the last part of this statement. He played in 29 of Barca’s 38 La Liga games (starting 20), nine of their 12 Champions League games and three Copa Del Rey (Spanish Cup) games as well. He had a few injuries but certainly saw plenty of playing time as well.

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  • 158. At 12:46pm on 27 Oct 2010, Rob Ilechuku wrote:

    The only thing genuinely "world class" about English footballers is the astonishing level of hype surrounding them. Witness the situation in South Africa where, after dismal performance followed dismal performance, the likes of "experts" like Dixon, Shearer and Lineker were quick to jump on the "we are going to beat Germany" bandwagon.

    Maybe now the media can ease back on the "we've got world class players" hype. It's simply not true.

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  • 159. At 12:52pm on 27 Oct 2010, i_monster wrote:

    It doesn't matter what Rooney's done since the World Cup, what he did over last season should have been enough to get him shortlisted although he shouldn't be in the top 3.

    Ashley Cole should also be in this year in year out, as stated by others he's consistently the best left back in the world & never lets club nor country down.

    As for who should win it, it can only be Sneijder. He's done as much as the Barca players playing in what you have to consider weaker teams! Champions League Winner, World Cup finalist & top scorer (from midfield) should clinch it.

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  • 160. At 12:55pm on 27 Oct 2010, kicboy wrote:

    I wonder what spin Dick Scud might apply to this to promote his Premier League is the best league in the world hypothesis. This must give him, the PL Chairmen, The Football League, The LMA, The PFA and The FA pause for thought. When will the Meltdown scenario put forward by the PFA paper a few years ago be revisited, I wonder...?

    Scudamore - arbitrator of debt and deification.
    Football - bloody hell.

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  • 161. At 1:11pm on 27 Oct 2010, Kingdiallo wrote:

    The list surely do not reflect the performance of players through out last season. I am an Arsenal fan but Rooney has to be on that list for what he did for United last season. Also people have to remember that he (Rooney) was not 100 per cent fit for the World cup and was playing in an England squard that was just poor all around. And just for record Ronaldo should not even be amoung the top 100 players for last season and not to mentioned the World best list. And oh, I think Wesley Snieder was by miles the best player last season.

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  • 162. At 1:23pm on 27 Oct 2010, RealisticRichard wrote:

    English players are not on there because they are not good enough and the quicker people realise that the better.

    Rooney scored a lot of goals but they were all against poor opposition.

    Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Barry, Cole etc . . . are not what they once were.

    One of the earlier posters on here said that Xavi had an average world cup. He is the one who pulls the strings and was class as usual. When England are in a position to catch up with germany and Spain then people have a right to complain.

    The Premier League for me has fallen from top spot dramatically and is now in joint 3rd with Serie A. La Liga leading the way from the Bundesliga

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  • 163. At 1:31pm on 27 Oct 2010, Rob04 wrote:

    Sneijder, Forlan and Messi would be my top 3 with Sneijder the clear winner this time round.

    No British player is good enough to be on that list this year.

    Wayno may be up for thr individual prize in the BAFTA's this year after last week's performance and his seedy tabloid exploits, with Liverpool going for the best soap award.

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  • 164. At 1:43pm on 27 Oct 2010, griffj31 wrote:

    It's easy to see why the premier league is badly represented. Few premier league players performed at the world cup and premier league clubs had an unusually poor season in the champions league. I don't think it means the Premier League is decline. It is right that the FIFA World player of the year is primarily judged from the big competitions. The World Cup and the Champions League are the pinnacle of world football. Performing on the big stage is what matters.
    For me the genuine contenders for the award are Iniesta, Xavi, Sneijder, Forlan and Robben. In a World Cup year the award has always gone to player from the winning country. It is difficult to see this changing. My top 3 would be 1. Xavi, 2. Sneijder 3. Robben.
    Robben might have had an injury prone year (again) but he excelled when it mattered in the big games. Some of the goals he scored will live long in the memory.
    Sneijder was great last year and runs Xavi close. At 15 million euros he was the signing of last year. Brilliant in the Champions League and the World Cup.
    Xavi was the best player for Spain at the World Cup. Always wanted the ball and made things happen against the best teams. He will go down as one of the all time greats.

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  • 165. At 2:01pm on 27 Oct 2010, Gassing Pirate wrote:

    23. At 4:52pm on 26 Oct 2010, Hello Dave wrote:

    Last season Rooney was widely acknowledged in the European press as in the top 3 players in the world. it was only 6 months ago, you all have really short memories!

    You forget though that 6 months he has done zip....... Not even worthy to mention him among the top 50 players in the world based on current form, plus he has only had three decent months during the selection for this award, hardly worth thinking about.

    Phil, you say you would take Cesc out of the award list? Apart from Drogba there was no other player so consistant in the league with his job. Add his goals and assists and how he completley controls games its impossible to overlook him.

    But the problem with Fabregas is that he is too technically gifted for the likes of teh Bristish media. he doesnt go around stamping on people or throwing his toys out of teh pram when things go wrong and takes his clubs decisions graciously. Unlike any English player.

    Prehaps now its time to really wake up and realise that no English player is anywhere near World Class, apart from Ashley Cole who is one of the best all round players I have seen in a long time.

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  • 166. At 2:02pm on 27 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 130: I disagree with your spelling, if that helps?

    @ 137: ok, but you wouldn't expect a substitute to be chosen as World's Best Player, would you?

    @ 153: fully agree!

    @ 157: quite agree with you Phil that the WC carries disproportional weight, not only this year but in most WC years. Basically FIFA rewarding its own showcase event. Fortunately, the real fans preserve the memory of players who never made it to the WC finals, such as George Best.

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  • 167. At 2:20pm on 27 Oct 2010, stelios wrote:

    Really incredible: no Rooney (superb at club and national level except W.C.) , Terry, Lampard, Ferdinand, Tevez, Cole and many others that shone during most of the season. What was Ronaldo's contribution in the W.C for Portugal if that is a criterion, or at Real with his long term injuries that kept him out for a great part.
    OK for Xavi and Sneijder they worked hard the whole season for all competitions, but Robben ?? And the much praised for his performance during the W.C. tournament Forlan had an indifferent season with his club.

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  • 168. At 2:44pm on 27 Oct 2010, Tony wrote:

    No one can deny that there are some very good players from England. The problem over the past 10/12 seasons is that our homegrown players have been performing only as well as the influx of foreigners has helped and aided them. This was undeniably shown in the W.C performances. They missed the ability and technique of these foreign players so much that when they get together, they cannot perform to the same level as they do for clubs. Of course it is very good to see these players in our leagues but they could be stifling the home grown talent. So I am not surprised there are none in this list.

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  • 169. At 3:17pm on 27 Oct 2010, SS11 wrote:

    La Liga =11, Bundesliga = 5, Serie A = 4, Premier League = 3

    Barcelona = 6, Bayern Munich = 5, Real Madrid = 4, Inter Milan = 4, Atletico Madrid = 1, Arsenal = 1, Chelsea = 1, Sunderland = 1

    Goalkeepers = 2, Defenders = 4, Central Midfielders = 6
    Attacking Midfielders = 5, Strikers = 6

    Historically speaking:
    Barcelona = 7 winners (Romario, Ronaldo X 2*, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho X 2, Messi)
    Real Madrid = 4 winners (Figo, Ronaldo, Zidane, Cannavaro)
    Juventus = 4 winners (Baggio, Zidane X 2*, Cannavaro)
    AC Milan = 3 winners (van Basten, Weah, Kaka)
    Inter Milan = 3 winners (Matthaus, Ronaldo X 2*)

    WC 1994 Finals = Romario scored in shoot out
    WC 1998 Finals = Zidane scored
    WC 2002 Finals = Ronaldo scored
    WC 2006 Finals = Cannavaro

    The above stats conclude that a central midfielder playing for Barcelona in La Liga who has also scored the goal in the Finals of the World Cup stands the best chance of winning the award. Andres Iniesta.

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  • 170. At 3:48pm on 27 Oct 2010, boltonthegame wrote:

    How is Sergio Ramos not in the list?

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  • 171. At 4:15pm on 27 Oct 2010, mohtechnix wrote:

    "This week, it's also impossible not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo after his goalscoring feat in Real Madrid 6-1 thrashing of Racing Santander on Saturday, especially as he's also on the FIFA short-list"

    Ronaldo is worth mentioning becuase he scored 4 goals over the weekend and on form, he is probably the best in the world right?

    How about a mention for the only player to have won a trebble in consecutive seasons, already scored 15goals in as many competitive games for his team this season so far (scoring in every game bar against Roma). Currently the champions league highest goal scoscores with 6 goals. Or is it because he is African and not European, your column don't cover African players eh?

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  • 172. At 4:21pm on 27 Oct 2010, What Would Clough Do wrote:

    @169: To it is worth noting that the two finalists of the 2006 World Cup, France and Italy have no Ballon d'Or candidates either this time.

    I counted the number from each country, roughly it was Spain-7, Germany-5, Brazil-3, Netherlands-2.

    After that, Portugal, Ivory Coast, Uruguay, Ghana have 1 each if I have counted everyone correctly.

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  • 173. At 4:44pm on 27 Oct 2010, dave parker wrote:

    I think the most disappointing think of all is that this list of nominees shows a decline in football as a whole. It wasn't that long ago that the list could have included Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Rivaldo, Del Piero, Keane, Maldini, Bergkamp, Zola, Raul, Schevchenko, Batistuta, Baggio, Schmeichel, Roberto Carlos, Nedved, Giggs only to name a few. All of these were truly world class players playing in the same era.

    Its sad when we can say that now there are only a handful of real world class players, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, Iniesta & Sneijder. I am not saying that there are not some other very good players but I wouldn't compare Robben, Schweinstieger, Muller, Klose or Villa with the names I have listed above, they are just not as good! Fact!

    Look at England, not so long ago we had quality players like Ian Wright, Robbie Fowler, Les Ferdinand, Andy Cole, Matt Le Tissier who couldn't get a game because we had Shearer, Sheringham and Owen. Now we have had to resort to playing the likes of Heskey and a 33 year old Kevin Davies. And dont forget Michael Ricketts and Darius Vassell were not long ago competing for a slot. It just shows its been a slow decline and I think now we have hit rock bottom.

    Lets hope things will now start to improve so we can get back to the days when even the Scottish Premier League had quality players like Brian Laudrup, Gazza and McCoist. Lets hope the dutch can produce a team like Ajax in the mid-nineties with Kluivert, The De Boer's, Seedorf, Davids etc. Lets hope Brazil can get there swagger back and can ditch guys like Elano, Lucas, Wagner Love etc.

    We should all pray for football to return to the way it was, but unfortunately its now a money making machine rather than a sport. We just need to hope that talent can preveil!!

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  • 174. At 4:56pm on 27 Oct 2010, Stevat wrote:

    #166, you're obviously an intelligent chap then.

    Further to my point and in response to the musings of #173, I blame this dearth of exciting, attacking talent on the emergence of what I refer to as pragmatic football. Suddenly we have more and more holding midfielders, and defensive wingers and all sorts of players who have a primary aim of keeping it tight, so to speak. Yes they attack when the need arises, but ultimately they exist to stifle opposition and be defensively sound before committing to attacks.

    This in turn is resultant of the ever increasing influence of money in the game we know and love. The rewards bring with them demands for instant success - often to the detriment of coaching careers and certainly to swashbuckling attacking football a la Keegan. Top coaches now are faced with the reality that should they lose a few games they move swiftly towards the sack. The fun has gone from the game as a result and I hope that more managers will throw caution to the wind, get the ball to their flair players and let them breathe, but alas I feel we may be some time from a revolution.

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  • 175. At 5:16pm on 27 Oct 2010, daveh wrote:

    To be honest I never bother looking at these awards - at one point inhistory you good guess who the top three would be without looking at the nomination list, even if they were not playing at their best.

    I might be sounding racist but british players have not exactly been grabbing this award - again is it Britain being viewed as the imperial power everybody loves to hate - or is it because we have not had that many top quality players?

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  • 176. At 5:32pm on 27 Oct 2010, Amadalla wrote:

    No wonder for me ,,,,and this Ballon d'Or is going to andres iniesta ,im sure he is by far the one that deserves mostly

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  • 177. At 5:35pm on 27 Oct 2010, Anshul wrote:

    I think rooney doesn't deserve to be in final 23 he was lucky to win all PFA awards fact was he just played well for 4 months and drogba dserved to win PFA Awards and deserve to win nomination in final 23 because he had a great season and scored in world cup even though he was injured with broken arm

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  • 178. At 5:37pm on 27 Oct 2010, markojuok wrote:

    The English Premiership ability to attract top talents from other parts of the world is wanting. Most highly talented players especially from South America, Spain, Germany and Italy would prefer to be in Italy or Spain in their prime years. They only move to England towards the ends of their careers to accumulate nice retirement packages. Case in point, Mendietta, Vialli, Hierro, V.D.Sar, Ballack, Lehman, Belleti etc. It will therefore be very long until the English Premiership can produce say ten out of the 23-man shortlist

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  • 179. At 6:22pm on 27 Oct 2010, RedWhiteandermblue wrote:

    The top league shifts periodically, and there's no question it shifted in the last two years from the Prem to La Liga. Yes, I know there are only two top teams, but those two have it all at the moment over the Prem's top four. I don't see Serie A as seriously challenging the Prem for next best, even though Inter won it all.

    Yeah, 20 odd nominations does seem like a bunch of candidates for Miss Congeniality. Potential winners, to me:

    1. Schneider--won so much, and played so well he probably deserves it, like all the other awards he's taken.

    2. Forlan--best player at the world cup, and outstanding for his club as well.

    3. Pick a Spaniard. A good case can be made for Iniesta, Xavi, who would be my pick, and Villa.

    Also, lucenatony: exactly what I've been saying. The big English stars are as a general rule fatally dependent on non-English spear carriers. Lampard's the extreme example. Fine player, don't get me wrong, but he depends on others to set him up in open space. Gerrard and Rooney in their own way have a I'll-take-over-the-game mentality which doesn't work at the highest international levels. The one English star, as many have pointed out, whose close control game does work at that level is (or was) Scholes.

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  • 180. At 6:40pm on 27 Oct 2010, RedWhiteandermblue wrote:

    Surely Drogba and Tevez were two of the 20-odd best in the world last year. Rooney, don't think so because he's done nothing since March, and in my opinion was not merely awful, but something of a disgrace, at the world cup. Oh, and it's Ronaldo, not the Prem, who suffers from the flavor of the week syndrome. All things considered, you could still make a case for him being the best player in the world, but almost no one, including me, will do it because at some level we're all tired of him.

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  • 181. At 6:59pm on 27 Oct 2010, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    The reason that the EPL has not many players in that kist is that, while there are the top teams playing in this league, there are honestly, some rubbish teams in it too. There are at least 6 or 7 teams that should not be part of the PL. Watching them play each other is 90 minutes of misery. People around the world see this and think 'what a rubbish league'. There is a perception that the PL has the least skillful players of the 4 top leagues in Europe. When one thinks of the PL, one does not think of the best players in the world. What one thinks about is two poor teams playing each other or a poor team using every trick in the book to stop the better side playing. Less and less football is being played here..

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  • 182. At 8:20pm on 27 Oct 2010, Dr Wang wrote:

    Xavi has been the best, he deserves this award

    #151 - you are confused, Drogba has been included in the list and Xavi was not mediocre in the WC. From wiki:

    "During the summer of 2010, Xavi's brilliance as a pure playmaker was a key factor in Spain's successful campaign for their first ever World Cup title. The veteran midfielder finished with a stellar 81% percent pass completion rate over the course of the tournament, completing 544 passes out of 669 passes attempted over all of Spain's 7 games.

    The sheer volume of Xavi's passing was impressive: among all players, even those who reached the final or the 3rd place match, Xavi led the field in passes attempted, passes completed, corners attempted (47), corners completed (26), and deliveries in the penalty area (15).

    Xavi was the only player to have attempted over 600 passes in the tournament, and likewise the only one to have completed at least 500 passes. His total of 669 passes attempted was 104 more than the next most prolific passer in the World Cup that year, Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger.

    These numbers stand as a statistical testament to both Xavi's passing prowess and Spain's reliance on him to distribute the ball."

    - However, I believe there is an error, Busquets completed 631 passes with an 88% success ratio, displaying just how good he is also.

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  • 183. At 8:23pm on 27 Oct 2010, Dr Wang wrote:

    And #179 - Wesley Sneijder, Schneider? Hate to be pedantic but that is a classic!

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  • 184. At 8:27pm on 27 Oct 2010, Mark Holburn wrote:

    I really hope Iniesta gets it. I have been watching him for a few years now and believe he is the best (El mejor jugador en el mundo). He also seems very modest and doesn't appear to have the big ego that some of the big names possess.

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  • 185. At 8:38pm on 27 Oct 2010, jhml wrote:

    For me the choice is simple: Diego Forlan. I've not been blindsided into supporting a team in the World Cup like this since Bulgaria in 1994. Uruguay/Forlan/Suarez/etc was the brightest spot of footy on the world stage for me this year.

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  • 186. At 8:57pm on 27 Oct 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    RedWhiteandermblue: “Yeah, 20 odd nominations does seem like a bunch of candidates for Miss Congeniality.” Along with lots of other people, I agree. Ten would have been quite enough. FIFA seem to have, in some respects, put less thought into the nature and construction of this so-called short-list, which seems like a contradiction in terms if you have 23 people on it, than the vast major of people have done with their comments on this blog. Many thanks once again to everybody who has put together interesting and thought-provoking responses this week.

    Remixdesign: “The nominees are a strange mix because the World Cup clearly had a big bearing on the group (Gyan?!) However, Ronaldo, Eto'o & Drogba barely did a thing in South Africa.” Very true, but they had great seasons otherwise and they were actually there in South Africa and talked about, regardless of what they eventually did on the pitch.

    Mustangy: “After all that information you could have told us how the winner is chosen... since before was elected by journalists and colleagues respectively.” The former Ballon d’Or presented by France Football was a vote by journalists but the FIFA World Player of the Year was a vote by the coaches and captains of national teams. Now, it’s a mixture of both. I’ll cut-and-paste the relevant bits from the link at the top of the blog, “the final decisions will be made by the captains and head coaches of the men’s and women’s national teams as well as by international media representatives selected by France Football.”

    Mohtechnix: “How about a mention for the only player to have won a treble in consecutive seasons… Or is it because he is African and not European, your column don't cover African players eh?” I presume you are talking about Samuel Eto’o and that’s why I don’t focus on him in particular, unless it’s in the context of what he does with Inter. There are other people who blog on African football. One of the reasons why he isn’t mentioned in this blog, even though it covers more geographic ground than usual, is that while he probably deserves to be in the top 23 named by FIFA, I don’t think anyone realistically expects him to be in the top three this time around.

    What_Would_Clough_do: “I counted the number from each country, roughly it was Spain-7, Germany-5, Brazil-3, Netherlands-2. After that, Portugal, Ivory Coast, Uruguay, Ghana have 1 each if I have counted everyone correctly.” You missed out Argentina (Lionel Messi) and Cameroon (Samuel Eto’o).

    Govmeister: “Completely unrelated to the main point of the blog, but seeing as we're talking about European Football i think it would be remiss to talk about the most amazing result of the weekend by far. PSV Eindhoven 10-0 Feyenoord” Thanks for mentioning this, good call. I was actually going to add a few paragraphs after my comments about Cristiano Ronaldo but, as you say, felt that it would have been a little tangential to the main point of the blog, which was getting rather long anyway. However, the result did get big coverage here in Spain and, in some cases, because Royston Drenthe (ex-Feyenoord and Real Madrid, now with Hercules) gave an extensive interview to the Spanish sports daily As, which appeared on Sunday, where he spoke about how great Feyenoord were and comparing them in various ways to Real. I bet he took some ribbing in training this week!

    I might get back into this topic again early next year, around the time of the Gala itself.

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  • 187. At 10:37pm on 27 Oct 2010, Gareth wrote:

    The best club player last season, by miles, was Messi. I think he had a decent world cup, especially when you take into account that most of Argentina's goals came from messi's brilliance and teams attempted to man mark him out of the game.

    The best player in the world cup was Forlan, the golden ball says it all. He also had a good season, winning the Europa league with Athletico Madird (even though i wanted fulham to win and i thought his goal was offside, but we'll leave that for now).

    So other than these two, i would also consider Xavi (who had a great world cup despite people stupidly saying he wasn't (how many passes do you think he made?). Inestia Won the world cup for spain and had terrific performances for club and country and David Villa was also great for spain with his goals. Snidjer also had a good year too.

    So i would expect the 3 places to be taken up by these players, especially the first two. But i wouldn't be surprised if Ronadlo got in on the act, he had a great season for his club no doubt, despite his injuries but in the world cup, he was average, and could only perform against North Korea, which says it all.

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  • 188. At 11:41pm on 27 Oct 2010, finnharpsman wrote:

    who's gonna keep the Sunderland bench warm when Gyan attends the ceremony?

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  • 189. At 00:14am on 28 Oct 2010, cakedeath wrote:

    The World Cup is just a summer tournament, it's the club performances over a whole season that counts. The Castrol Rankings (the best objective rankings on European League players) has had Messi at no.1 all through 2010 meaning he is the best performing player.

    That's good enough for me. I mean he scored 47 goals- those hat-tricks and the 'poker' against Valencia, Zaragoza and Arsenal were magical and had people comparing him to Pele and Maradona.

    Do they not show clips of the players at the awards? When highlight reels of Xavi, Iniesta and Sneijder are shown along with a unbelievable Messi highlight reel.......

    If the award goes to the more successful players for the season then Sneijder, Xavi and Iniesta are the favourites, the best player though- Messi.

    As for the English players, well if Rooney isn't getting mentioned then there's no hope for the rest. Apart from a future Wiltshire I can't think of another English player to mention in the same breathe as the Ballon nominees. Sad but that's the case.

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  • 190. At 00:32am on 28 Oct 2010, BrianTopp wrote:

    A lot of people have mentioned that too much emphasis is put on the world cup in this list of contenders. History has shown that world cup winners do get preferential treatment for this (off the top of my head 1994 was the last time a non winner won - but I think this was because non europeans could not win the award at this time (was this the last year where this was the rule? someone please correct me if I'm wrong I've done no checking)).

    Whether england fans want to admit it or not - the world cup is the worlds premier event, and players who perform at the premier event are usually held in higher esteem than others - I know this is unfair to the welsh, the northern irish or the andorrans but this is the case (and the same would go for the euro championships). Plays who perform for the team that wins the premier event are often held in even higher esteem than the rest.

    A lot of people mentioned rooney, someone please correct me again but I think this award is a calender year award? if so three months of good performance is not going to get you anywhere - comparison with ronaldo on this is not worth it because ronaldo's club form has been consistantly better this calender year.

    Based on this calender year and the fact that this is a world cup year and the world cup is the numero uno event in world football, who from the premiership, deserves to be on the list - over and above the people already on the list? I can't really think of any players.

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  • 191. At 01:18am on 28 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 181: I think you're commiting a basic mistake here. Imo, what makes the PL particularly strong in relation to the other European leagues is the strength in depth. We may not like the way many of the lower order teams play, but they tend to be stronger than their Spanish, Italian, German and French equivalents. Note the fact that a mid-table team - Fulham - reached the final of the Europa League last season. It is true that English teams have won proportionally few of the international trophies in the last fifteen years, which is a cause for concern and has generated healthy discussion about where we might be going wrong.

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  • 192. At 01:29am on 28 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 178: I agree with you that the EPL has an uphill struggle to attract the world's top players, basically due to three factors: weather, the physical demands, media abuse and taxes. So, we have to offer other things: quality of lifestyle (which embraces a very broad range of factors), pay and bonuses, career development and international success. We aren't doing too badly in these areas, but we must keep improving, and hopefully work on the three negative factors that we can influence.

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  • 193. At 01:33am on 28 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 175: Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Germany were all imperial powers, and on the whole were considerably more resented by their colonial populations. What has this got to do with the issue at hand?

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  • 194. At 01:39am on 28 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 174; it ain't going to happen, but I agree with your sentiments. The only 'light at the end of the tunnel' is for the supporters who sustain the clubs and the players to keep insisting that the prime goal is their entertainment and that this should never be sacrificed in pursuit of money, titles and trophies. Are supporters prepared to do that?

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  • 195. At 01:42am on 28 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 173: on the button! And 174 gives a very valid explanation of why.

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  • 196. At 09:01am on 28 Oct 2010, Anshul wrote:

    i dont no why some of my friends here dont think drogba doesnt deserve to be here he scored 37 goals for chelsea and even scored in world cup event though he was half fit and that to agaist brazil doesnt it count for something i know gyan was lucky fellow and also malouda should have been nominated as well but french football exit early on would have effected it

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  • 197. At 2:26pm on 28 Oct 2010, BLRBrazil wrote:

    @ 172: good point. If the Brits are worried, what must the Italians and French be going through right now? Let's see who is better at getting their act together?

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  • 198. At 9:39pm on 28 Oct 2010, samredunited4life wrote:

    11. At 4:15pm on 26 Oct 2010, paddy1979 wrote:
    The Premier League has been in decline for years. Liverpool, United, Arsenal and even Chelsea are not as good as they were several seasons ago. Man City and Spurs have improved but I think there is a genuine lack of real stars now with La Liga easily having the best technical players. Sometimes we get blinkered about the Premiership, yes it is exciting but there is definitelty a shortage of really excellent players. Rooney, for example, is outstanding in the Premiership because of poor quality defending. When he comes up against the world's best, like he did in the World Cup, he simply wasn't up to scratch


    sorry i dont agree with any of that, la liga may just have the edge over the prem but united arsenal and especially chelsea are certainly within the top 5 or 6 club teams in europe(and probably the world) and and spurs have probably as good a squad as any la liga team apart from real and barca.

    you say rooney is good in the prem due to poor defending but against the worlds best in the world cup he wasnt up to scratch... so you're saying the likes of chelsea arsenal man city have poor defences compared with the USA slovenia and the mighty algeria??? the only good team england came up against beat us 4-1 and england played poorly, no awfully during the world cup, not all rooneys fault.

    rooney should have been in the list despite his poor form recently every player has a run of poor form, last season he carried a united team that had lost ronaldo and tevez and only ended up finishing 1 single point behind an awesome chelsea side, i remember him scoring 4 in 2 games against milan and then again against bayern when he got injured and he hasnt been in good form since then but for what he did before then he should easily be in the list.

    not sure how gyan got into the list maybe it was based on just him scoring a few penalties at the world cup, but i feel malouda should have been included and probably ashley cole, also i feel messi is being overated as good as he is but i think david villa is better imo, he was the reason spain won the world cup so i think either him, the prolific and creative sneider, or the brilliant forlan should win the award.

    as for the real betis doctor, it is people like him who are the real heros of the game

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  • 199. At 10:58pm on 28 Oct 2010, eaman wrote:

    i think it should be messi or xavi to win it. messi had an unbelievable season with barcelona scoring 47 goals and despite what some people stupidally say messi had a good world cup. he was argentinas best player. and xavi also had a great season with barcelona and obviously had a massive influence on spain winning the world cup.

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  • 200. At 08:05am on 29 Oct 2010, ed allen wrote:

    for me your blog is a must read.

    i would pick either david villa as he scored goals for side heavily in debt and punching above their weight, xavi/iniesta as they make their sides tick, sneijder great season all round.

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  • 201. At 10:53am on 29 Oct 2010, Stevat wrote:

    #198, you think Messi is overrated? Odd.

    Also, you say that of Chelsea and Man U, yes the top 2 clubs here are strong, and there's maybe three or four others of a good standard as well but the Premier League is twenty teams, and the majority are dross. Dull and uninspiring, technically inefficient and thuggish in many cases. I'd expect most bottom half teams of La Liga and Serie A to beat their equivalent in the Premier League. I'd say each has two or three top clubs that are all of a similar level, the comparison should be made against the rest of the league.

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  • 202. At 12:18pm on 29 Oct 2010, theonewhoknows wrote:

    How Can Messi be over-rated if anything he is under-rated

    If we are going on terms of the world cup,i think Mueller of Germany should win it,but if not it should be Messi

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  • 203. At 12:23pm on 29 Oct 2010, the_red85 wrote:

    to be honest. just give the award between messi and xavi for the next 5 yrs. simple done.
    2010 - messi
    2011 - xavi
    2012- messi
    2013 - xavi
    2014 - messi

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  • 204. At 1:01pm on 29 Oct 2010, cakedeath wrote:

    When I read anyone saying Messi is overated or Ronaldo is better I just stop reading anything else they have to say about football as they either don't know what they are talking about or at the least can't be objective.

    Some quotes then for this average player....

    Messi is unstoppable. He’s the only player who can change direction at such pace“ - Arsène Wenger, Arsenal Manager

    “He takes every possibility when 25 yard line and the goal. With the ball on his feet he is a genius” – Johan Cruyff FC Barcelona and football legend

    “You have to see it – it is not something you can describe because you have to see it to believe it.” - Josep Pep Guardiola, Barcelona Coach

    He is unique and everybody is comparing him with Maradona or with Pelé. If he continues to do what he has been doing he will probably be the greatest player there ever been” - Sir Bobby Charlton Director, Manchester United

    "No one was so great at 19. Not Maradona and not Pele" - Rumenigge

    "Everytime he touches the ball I see Maradona in him. We need to protect him. I'd personally put him inside my bed-side drawer" - Veron

    "Ronaldinho is better than Cristiano Ronaldo, but neither are as good as Leo Messi."
    -Antonio Cassano

    "The other day I saw one of his games. He was running with the ball at a hundred percent full speed, I don’t know how many touches he took, maybe five or six, but the ball was glued to his foot. It’s practically impossible!"

    “Leo was playing when he was 14 or 15 years old and he appear on the pitch 14 minutes to finish the match and he scored 4 goals in 14 minutes. you know it was unbelievable from the beginning everybody knew that he was a star and a genius of football” - Joan Laporta FC Barcelona President

    Lionel Messi is a world-class player. He's young and chasing him around has done my back in
    -Ashley Cole

    "Messi does things that we would do against the worst players in the streets (or plazas) when we were children. But he does it against professional players" -Luis Enrique

    “Messi is out of this planet, I would say he is so far ahead of the rest of the players playing right now and I would say historically as well. There are not words to describe him." - World Cup winner in 1978 and fellow countryman Ossie Ardiles

    “Messi is starting to come to Maradona’s level and with his size people are going to compare them. They’ve every right to, he is without doubt the best player in the world at the moment.” - Liverpool legend Ian Rush

    "It’s not up for debate, it’s just wrong. We are looking at a player in Messi who, when he retires, may very well be the best player to have graced the game. How can he be compared to anybody currently playing." - Diego Milito

    " It's nice that people put me up there, but I think Lionel Messi is the best in the world. The things he can do with the ball are unbelievable and he is scoring a lot of goals as well. He has been fantastic again this year. He is the best player in the world." - Wayne Rooney

    "To me, Messi is better than Maradona. I play with him, I see him every day, and to me he is the best. Maradona has been the best player in history and for me, Messi is even greater than he is. He is young, but has already won a lot of things; to me, he is better" - Pedro Rodriguez

    "Messi is in a different world. He is the best player in this football-world, without any doubt."
    - Arjen Robben

    “I think that everyone will say the same things about him,” the Frenchman told “You just have to watch him and enjoy the show he is putting on game after game for Barcelona. He makes the difference most of the time. In particular, he is always going forwards. He never passes the ball backwards or sideways. He has only one idea, to run towards the goal. So as a football fan, just enjoy the show.” - Zinedine Zidane

    "Messi is quite simply the best player in the world by a huge margin." - Pep Guardiola

    “I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius and he can become an even better player. His potential is limitless and I think he’s got everything it takes to become Argentina’s greatest player.” -Maradona

    His speed is astonishing. It’s amazing how he can go 1 to 100 in just one second. I’m constantly around great players like Cristiano and Rooney, but this guy is just a step up above every other great footballer out there at the moment. Not only is he quick, determined, and extremely intelligent on the ball, but his movement off the ball is just as fantastic – unbelievable to sum it up in a word.” -Carlos Tevez

    “The best way to stop Messi is when you play with 11 men and then you can double mark him, one player to stay on him and the other to help out. If it is 11 against 10 then you have almost no chance of stopping him.” -Jose Mourinho

    “I have the possibility to watch Messi in training each morning, and because of what he demonstrates he is the best player in the world. It is a pleasure to watch him, and because of the way he plays he is an undisputed leader of the Barcelona team.” -Thierry Henry

    “Every time he plays, Leo Messi reminds me more of Maradona, both left-footed and short, Messi is the best player in the world. For us it is not a surprise. Since he began to come and train with us and we knew we would go down this path. Someday I will explain that I was at the birth of one of the footballing greats: Leo Messi." -Ronaldinho

    “The best? Messi” -Marcello Lippi

    “It is as if someone commands him from the stands, like a video game. I have never seen a human run with the ball at that speed. I have not seen Maradona so I cannot compare, but Messi is simply unbeatable.”- Mikel Arteta

    “It is clear that Messi is on a level above all others. Those who do not see that are blind.” -Xavi

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  • 205. At 1:58pm on 29 Oct 2010, itsonlyagame - R9 The Number of the Beast wrote:

    @ Dr Wang: I stand amendaed regarding Drogba.

    I do however stand by my opinion regarding Xavi. As someone who's followed him very closely for a number of years now, I must say that he was well below his own standards largely due, as I explained, to the way opposition teams set up against Spain.

    I'd hadn't checked for statistics, rather relied on my own personal observation in comparison to his performances during the 09/10 domestic and CL season, during Barça's amazing 08/09 season or at the 2008 Euros.

    However, since you threw down the gauntlet, I went to check some passing statistics to try and back up this perception - since you chose pass completion - according a quick check with several internet sources - his completion rate v Man Utd in the 09 CL final was 94%, it was again 94% in the 2008 Euro finals vs Germany (above 90% for the tournament) and was over 93% over the 2 CL legs vs Arsenal this last season.

    So, you can see, that his completion rate at the World Cup was way below his normal standards - failing twice as many passes as he did in other high profile matches and competitions.

    As for the overall number of passes completed, I think it was only about 70 in the Euro finals vs Germany, but he did average 100 per game (95+105) over the two CL legs vs Arsenal.

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  • 206. At 4:43pm on 29 Oct 2010, eaman wrote:

    i think it should be messi or xavi to win it. messi had an unbelievable season with barcelona scoring 47 goals and despite what some people stupidally say messi had a good world cup. he was argentinas best player. and xavi also had a great season with barcelona and obviously had a massive influence on spain winning the world cup.

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