Ballon d'Or hype strikes again

Posted by Francesc Tomas

Lionel Messi, Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez have been included in the top 23 players on the short list to challenge for the prestigious Ballon d'Or.

While I have argued many times that individual awards ultimately don't mean much from a sporting perspective, it is clear that being nominated or, even better, winning the trophy brings global recognition, which Barcelona as a club certainly welcome.

I find it hard to choose between the four Blaugrana candidates. Already a quadruple Golden Ball winner, Messi would definitely be pleased to add yet another individual award to his already over-flowing cabinet. Having scored 43 goals in 2013, being instrumental to Barcelona completing the best campaign in La Liga history and leading Argentina to World Cup qualification are strong arguments to be considered.

-Correia injured in win at Celta
-Ballon d'Or shortlist

Despite not being as brilliant as in previous years (especially during the Champions League semifinals due to ongoing muscle injuries), La Pulga would be a worthy winner once again.

Neymar has been playing for Barcelona for only a couple of months, but in this time he has already established himself in Cules' hearts all over the world thanks to his fresh dynamism, blistering pace and creative dribbling.

The impressive way Brazil won the Confederations Cup before an adoring home crowd highlighted the 21-year-old Brazilian as a future star, one who could potentially become the world's best in years to come.

The class, leadership and unique style of football that Iniesta and Xavi bring to club and country has deservedly been recognised by FIFA once again. The legendary midfield partnership they have developed over the years has already been firmly established in football history and, in time, people will look back at their careers in awe, learning from their unparalleled movement and vision.

While it is true that their goal return will never be as impressive as Messi's, the truth is that the Argentine wizard would not have become what he is today without the support of his brilliant teammates.

It's worth noting I find the omission of former coach Tito Vilanova from the list of top 10 coaches of the year to be quite puzzling, to say the least. Personally, I would have thought that the humble man who lead Barcelona to their best domestic campaign (winning 100 points in the process) and reached the Champions League final four in his first season deserved a mention.

Achieving such success while battling cancer makes Vilanova's year so remarkable that the fact that FIFA forgot about him is unacceptable.

I'd also like to address the inappropriate way FIFA president Sepp Blatter disrespected Cristiano Ronaldo on the day that the Ballon d'Or nominations came out.

Regular readers of this column know that I am definitely not a fan of the Portuguese forward's behaviour on the pitch, but his status as one of the world's best footballers should have earned him the respect of the sport's governing body by now.

FIFA will announce the top three candidates for the Ballon d'Or in the near future and the overall winner on Jan. 13. Realistically, I believe Messi could be the only Blaugrana to be on the podium and, once there, he may not win the award.

La Pulga certainly has the credentials to win, but I have a feeling that Franck Ribery may just have the edge thanks to his decisive performances while leading Bayern Munich to their impressive treble.

Either way, what truly matters is Barcelona as a collective are currently sitting at the top of the La Liga table with a comfortable six-point lead over arch-rivals Real Madrid. In Europe, the Catalans should qualify for the knock-out stages unless major disaster strikes.

The signs in this early part of the season are encouraging enough to expect the team to challenge for every competition entered until the final stages of the season. While it would be great if any of the Blaugrana nominees achieved recognition at an individual level, football is all about collective glory.

Together we are stronger!

Have your say

I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.

For more news and opinion notes on Barcelona, follow Francesc Tomas at @TomasESPN and Barcablog Facebook; 52,000 Cules have already joined.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.