Unless you've been living under a rock for the past three years, you're certianly aware that Barcelona currently have the three best players in the world. This fact was finally oficially recognized and Xavi, Iniesta and Messi will battle it out for the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or award.
While all three deserve this award, I believe Xavi Hernandez deserves it a little bit more than his two teammates and fellow La Masia graduates. Maybe it's because I'm a die-hard Xavi fan and would love for him to bag this award, but I sincerely feel that he deserves it.
First of all, he was the only one of three candidates to excel during the entire year; Lionel Messi was brilliant at the club level but failed to set the world on fire in South Africa (mainly due to Maradona's inadequate coaching). Iniesta, on the other hand, had a great World Cup and even scored the winning goal in the final, but was injured for most of the club season and his influence was limited.
Xavi, however, was fantastic all year long. He led Barcelona's midfield during the season and orchestrated Spain's World Cup triumph with unparalleled class. He is the leader that finally put an end to Spain's underachieving run in international tournaments. Even Marca columnists (Madrid-based columnists) had no qualms admitting that Xavi is the greatest Spanish player of all-time!
At 30-years old, Xavi has already won every trophy he could possibly win, both at the club and the international level, but he keeps finding the motivation to add to his already legendary status. His recent MVP performance in El Clásico is a testament to that: it was vintage Xavi during the full 90 minutes. He pulled the strings in Barcelona's midfield, completing over 120 passes, masterfully orchestrating Real Madrid's anihilation, and he still had time to score the opener.
While Xavi might not be score as much as Lionel Messi, he certainly helps Messi score and makes the Argentine an even more brilliant player than he already is. With Xavi in the team, everyone around him seems to play better. That's the effect Xavi has. Like Daniel Alves once pointed out, "Xavi plays in the future", he can guess every player's movements even before they've moved and make the right pass. Besides, he seems to be ubiqutuous! More often than not, he runs more than any other player on the pitch and is always providing passing lines to his teammates. He is the man behind the tiki-taka style employed by the two most dominant teams in the world today: Barcelona and Spain.
While individual recognition might have come late for Xavi, he's already bagged several individual awards, including the World Soccer Player of the Year two weeks ago, ahead of Lionel Messi. But this is THE award, the one individual award that would be the fair recognition to Xavi's legendary career. It might be one of his last chances to capture it.
On January 10, I will be happy with whoever wins, but I'll be rooting for Xavi to lift the Ballon d'Or and further cement his rightful status as a legend of the game!