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The Ballon d’Or will lose all credibility if Messi doesn’t win it this year

No one comes close in 2019

FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2015 Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

FIFA’s Ballon d’Or was once the most highly prized individual award in the game, given to ‘the best player in the world.’

However, the foul stench of tactical voting over recent years has only served to turn the governing body into even more of a laughing stock than they were already.

Indeed, there are very simple conclusions that can be drawn from the voting in recent years. In some cases, those who’ve voted have got it absolutely correct, but there’ve been plenty of occasions when FIFA have really let themselves down.

I’m thinking in particular back to the time when the voting was re-opened after Cristiano Ronaldo had scored a hat-trick for Portugal against Sweden.

Leo Messi had been well ahead when voting had originally closed, and it’s hard to escape the fact that a covert appeal by those close to Ronaldo eventually ensured a favourable outcome.

Forget the official line at the time, the whole sorry saga stank.

Though the shine has faded, if the player who deserves the Ballon d’Or most wins it this time around, it will at least restore some credibility.

I am talking about Lionel Messi of course.

On an individual level - remembering that this is an individual award - there hasn’t been anyone close to the Argentinian in 2018/19, or in this calendar year.

Suggestions by Ronaldo’s camp that he should win another because Portugal triumphed in the Nations League are just mischievous.

He wasn’t even the best player in that competition. A competition that he only felt important enough to grace with his presence from the semi-final stage onwards, in a winnable game against Switzerland.

Always there for the ‘flashbulb moments’ our Cristiano.

Virgil van Dijk has a marginally better claim to the gong than the Portuguese, but not having a player dribble past you isn’t really the best criteria to be putting forward as a reason for winning.

Recent winners appear to be whomever is the best player in the team which wins the Champions League, neatly bypassing the fact that victory in the competition is thanks to the entire team.

Even Van Dijk himself has said that Messi should win a record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or.

Here’s why.

50 games (43 starts). UCL top scorer. LaLiga top scorer. LaLiga top assister. Most goals: 51. Most assists: 19 Most hat tricks: 4. Most free kick goals: 8. Won Golden Boot 2018/19.

All individual stats and definable metrics which, clearly, mark him out as the best in the world.

It isn’t even up for debate this year.

Shame on those voters who could end up scuppering what would be a well-deserved accolade, and one which gives the Ballon d’Or back some long overdue credibility.

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