Soccer Players Who Should Have Won The Ballon d’Or Since 2010
Soccer is a team sport, but like any team sport, it makes space for individual brilliance. A great goalkeeper or defender can make saves and stops that the average player can’t and will win and retain points for your team because of it. A great goalscorer will turn draws into victories, and a great creative midfielder can provide the ammunition for those goalscorers to go about their business with. A player who can combine one or more of those attributes together will stand head and shoulders above the rest and enter the conversation for the Ballon d’Or.
The Ballon d’Or, first handed out in 1956, is the world’s best player’s annual award. In recent years we’ve seen it won by either Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Argentina’s Lionel Messi, with one solitary victory by Croatia’s Luka Modric in 2018, breaking the pattern. Messi and Ronaldo are both spectacular players and are among the best to have lived and played the game, but there have been times when other people could and possibly should have picked up the trophy during those years.
It isn’t hard to see why Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the trophy so much in recent times. Messi is an Argentinian wizard who’s broken every record there is to break at Barcelona and is considered by many to be the best. Ronaldo is a physical colossus, with a body like a Greek god, two good feet, incredible heading ability, and a record of success wherever he’s been. He’s also a brand.
It’s not a coincidence that Ronaldo’s likeness was used to promote the “Striker Goes Wild” online slots game even if the man himself doesn’t appear to have signed off on it. Messi might be magical, but he doesn’t have the same universal appeal. Messi doesn’t advertise online slots, nor would he entertain the idea, because he seems to like to play it safe, as he’s demonstrated by spending his whole career in Spain rather than trying different leagues worldwide Ronaldo has.
For us mere mortals, we have to come up with creative ways to earn our trophy; you don’t have to be a natural-born athlete, just go over to UK slot games to Complete fun tasks to unlock trophies!
Without any disrespect intended to the two legends, here are some players who arguably should have picked that trophy up instead.
Virgil van Dijk, 2019
In the 2018-2019 season, Liverpool lost only one game in the English Premier League but finished second to Manchester City. They made up for that by winning the European Champions League. In the 2019-2020 season, they went one better in the Premier League and won the trophy. None of that would have happened were it not for the presence of Dutchman Virgil van Dijk at the heart of their defense. He’s been hailed as the best defender in the world, and he’s lived up to that billing. It’s noticeable now that Liverpool’s form has started to stutter without him to call upon due to injury. Nevertheless, he missed out on football’s top individual prize in 2019, with Lionel Messi winning the prize despite having what was by his high standards an average season.
The problem that comes with playing in a team with Lionel Messi is that while your team might win everything, you’ll always be overshadowed by the Argentinian genius. That still applies even when you’re playing better than him, and you’re contributing more to your team’s success than him. Xavi found that out in 2010 when he was the beating heart of a Barcelona side that swept all before it and played a crucial role in helping Spain win the World Cup. That ought to have been more than enough to claim the prize, but he came in third when the votes were counted for the Ballon d’Or. Messi picked the “Golden Ball” trophy up for the second time instead.
Franck Ribery, 2013
French winger Franck Ribery knew he should have won the Ballon d’Or in 2013, and he wasn’t shy of telling the world how he felt about it. Although he had many fine seasons at Bayern Munich, 2013 was arguably his finest. When he was at his best, he was simply unplayable, running past players with ease with the ball stuck to his feet. His wing partnership with Arjen Robben was arguably the combination that the world’s defenders feared the most – even more so than anything that Barcelona or Real Madrid might throw at them. Ribery finished in third place behind the usual pairing of Messi and Ronaldo, which in 2013 had Ronaldo on top. After the ceremony, he said that he was “disgusted” with the outcome and still hadn’t calmed down six years later when he was interviewed after departing from the German club.
Robert Lewandowski, 2020
Polish striker Robert Lewandowski might be the unluckiest man in football. He’s been arguably the world’s greatest pure striker (perhaps rivaled only by England’s Harry Kane in that category) for at least five years but hasn’t even made it into the top three when it comes to Ballon d’Or standings. That’s despite winning the Bundesliga and the Champions’ League with Bayern Munich. After years of being overlooked, it appeared that 2020 might finally be his year, and then the ceremony and the award were canceled because of the global pandemic situation. Lewandowski has been rewarded for his efforts this year with FIFA’s “Best Men’s Player” award, but it’s lightly-regarded compared to the Ballon d’Or and won’t mean as much to him no matter how satisfied with it he pretends to be. To make matters worse, he might not get another chance at the big prize at the age of 32. If it’s going to happen, it surely has to happen in 2021.
Very few players can ever claim to be the best in the world, but for those performing well enough and winning trophies, it must be galling to sit on the sidelines and watch Messi or Ronaldo win for the fifth or sixth time each. These injustices happen in soccer, though – and they’ll probably happen again during the decade to come!