Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) France Football 2016 – The Case for Lionel Messi

Last week, Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned winner of the Ballon d’Or 2016 (the fourth of his career) ahead of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. While I congratulate the Portuguese winger for his success, I do not agree with the decision and I would like either a reform of the trophy or simply put, a repeal of it. And there are several reasons why.

Earlier this year, France Football (a French football magazine whom created the trophy and distributed it for decades) and FIFA parted ways with the gala and the trophy, which meant full control of the criterias by the magazine and the hope that we would have more winners and more diversity. Well, it seems like France Football picked up exactly where FIFA left off and awarded the Ballon d’Or to a player who is very good, with great statistics, four trophies won, but ultimately was not the best player in 2016, in my opinion.

I even doubt that he was he second best, even third best (Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez could have been in front of him in 2016). I have ranked Lionel Andrès Messi first because of his complete performance (with club and country) from January 1st to the end date of the voting (November 27th). Goals, assists, chances created, trophies won and runner-up, Messi was, once again, in a league of his own.

While CR7 has been very good as mentioned, created his share of chances and won several important trophies during the year, he was also helped by his teammates while struggling to make an impression on the big stage (UEFA Champions League and European Championship finals) or being absent (UEFA SuperCup). Real Madrid CF won the Champions League final against Atlético Madrid FC on penalties where Ronaldo was invisible the whole game. He eventually dispatched of the winning penalty (only Juanfran from Atlético missed his during the penalty kicks).

Ronaldo didn’t have a great European Championship, missing several scoring chances, missing an important penalty versus Iceland if I recall with his country barely qualifying for the round of 16 in a group where they were largely favourites to win and featuring a mere twenty minutes in the final. His attitude during the whole tournament was unworthy of a “superstar” like him as well. The man of the tournament was French striker Antoine Griezmann.

Lionel Messi won the domestic double (LaLiga BBVA and the Spanish Cup). He was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Atlético de Madrid FC in the UEFA Champions League, but led Argentina to the Copa America Centenario final lost on penalties to Chile for the second year in a row. Messi, having a superb tournament, missed his penalty kick during the shootout session.

In his return to Europe, him and FC Barcelona lifted the Spanish SuperCup versus Sevilla FC, adding a third domestic trophy to his cabinet for the year. His statistics were excellent through the year as you can regularly see in my blog. He outscored, “outassisted” by 16 assists, Cristiano Ronaldo. He created more chances and showed (as usual) more team spirit and more engagement than the Portuguese international.

All this leads me to ask…what is the Ballon d’Or’s purpose? Do we reward the best player of the calendar year? Of the season? Is it a popularity contest? Do we simply attribute the trophy based on winning the FIFA World Cup, Champions League and/or the European Championship despite not being the best player of the tournament or even the team (Nani, Pepe, a Champions League winner as well this year, Ricardo Quaresma, Rui Patricio and others were excellent and clutch during the tournament for La Seleção and let’s not forget Lille player Eder who put the nail in the coffin to clinch the title)?

Last, but not least, it may not be a good idea to hand out a trophy right in the middle of a season. After all, trophies are given at the end generally.

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