Earlier this week FIFA announced it’s short-list for the 2010 Ballon d’Or award, to be given out on December 6th. There are 23 players nominated for the award including non-Barca players: Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Cesc Fabregas, Diego Forlan, Asamoah Gyan, Julio Cesar, Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm, Maicon, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Wesley Sneijder.
While I love the fact that six of the 23 nominees play their club football at the Camp Nou, this award is going to Wesley Sneijder and deservedly so. The past few years have seen Champions League glory as a requirement to win the award, with 2009 winner Lionel Messi (Barcelona), 2008 winner Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United), and 2007 winner Kaka (AC Milan) all holding the title of "world’s best" after having won the Champions League. I personally think Kaka winning the award in 2007 was a travesty as he wasn’t half the player Cristiano Ronaldo was that year, but Milan beat United in the CL semifinals so there you go.
With this season being a World Cup year it certainly opens the voting up to new possibilities. Perhaps having a Champions League trophy on your resume won’t be enough in 2010? With seven of the 23 nominees coming from Spain you would certainly have to think the World Cup played a role in the nominations, although none of the seven Spanish nominees played their club ball at Inter Milan so choosing a winner will be tricky.
I do believe that the winner should come from a team that won either the World Cup or Champions League, and nobody had a stronger campaign over those two competitions than Wesley Sneijder. Sneijder was the playmaker who inspired Inter Milan to a shock Champions League title in 2010. The Inter defense was strong with players like Julio Cesar and Maicon. The Inter attack was strong with forwards Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o playing well, but Sneijder was the key in midfield keeping play linked between the two. The fact that Inter beat Chelsea, Barcelona, and Bayern on their way to the title makes it even more impressive.
In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa Sneijder was once again at his best, leading the Netherlands to the final game, a close 1-0 defeat to Spain. Nobody scored more goals than Sneijder in South Africa, who finished with five. His second half brace in a 2-1 win over Brazil in the quarterfinals was incredible.
Take it to the bank, Wesley Sneijder will win the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or award. If I am somehow wrong, which is often the case, the winner will be Spanish. It’s hard to determine how much weight will be placed on the Spanish World Cup victory, especially when three (Iniesta, Xavi, Puyol) of those World Cup winners also won the La Liga title with Barcelona (pre- David Villa).