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The many problems with the Ballon d'Or nominees

The 2016 Ballon d'Or nominations: An undermining of the prize's credibility and selection criteria

October 25, 2016 By Ali M.
For all those upset with the Ballon d'Or nominations, you're not alone: France Football and its panel got several of their choices wrong.

On Monday, the nominees for the upcoming Ballon d’Or prize were announced, and of course the usual suspects were there: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, and Neymar.

On most occasions, the final three for the prize is spot on, being Ronnie, Leo, and whatever player performed well enough in the previous season to be compared to the Real Madrid and Barca superstars.

However, with France Football and FIFA ending their partnership, the Ballon d’Or did away with a three-man shortlist. Instead, 30 players were chosen from which the winner will be selected from, shifting the focus to the initial nominations.

Although little can or would dare debate the top six nominees for the prize, it is the remaining candidates who can be questioned. Before we continue, here are all 30 nominees for the 2016 Ballon d’Or:

  • Sergio Aguero (Man City), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (BVB), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Diego Godin (Atletico), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man United), Andres Iniesta (Barca), Koke (Atletico), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester), Lionel Messi (Barca), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern), Manuel Neuer (Bayern), Neymar (Barca), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Pepe (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Man United), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barca), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Arturo Vidal (Bayern).

    Sergio Aguero (Man City), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (BVB), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Diego Godin (Atletico), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man United), Andres Iniesta (Barca), Koke (Atletico), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester), Lionel Messi (Barca), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern), Manuel Neuer (Bayern), Neymar (Barca), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Pepe (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Man United), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barca), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Arturo Vidal (Bayern).

The farce that has been created by France Football’s selection transcends merely Mesut Ozil’s omission, as it is complimented by shock inclusions which will have many debating the selection criteria. One must look no further than Andres Iniesta as the perfect example.

Although the Spaniard is undoubtedly a classy player, one who will remain in the minds of the generation lucky enough to see him in action, his stats give him little to no reason for being chosen in the absence of Arsenal’s playmaker.

The Blaugrana ace managed only one goal and two assists in La Liga and the Champions League combined despite playing alongside MSN – goal hoggers, but a midfielder’s dream team-mates. Ozil managed six goals and 19 assists in the Premier League alone playing behind Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck on most instances.

Arsenal fans can be forgiven for being upset by Ozil's omission

“But Iniesta won La Liga and the Copa del Rey. What does Ozil have to show?” would be a fair response – turning a blind eye to Dimirti Payet’s inclusion, that is. But by that logic, Leonardo Bonucci – one of the most sought after center-backs – would have been nominated, having won the league and cup double in Italy on top of captaining his national side to the Euro 2016 quarter-final.

Nope. There was only space for Real Madrid aces – a reoccurring trend – Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, with Diego Godin getting a nod. Paying little attention to that injustice is doable, but the next one is harder to swallow.

In order to make the award “fair”, four goalkeepers were chosen in the form of Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich, Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus, Hugo Lloris of Spurs, and Rui Patricio of Sporting Lisbon. Whilst many were quick to feel for David De Gea over his snub, not many noticed that Jan Oblak was omitted.

Yes, the last line of defense in Atletico Madrid’s almost impenetrable goal wasn’t good enough for a nomination. This is despite the fact that the Slovenian shot-stopper was named in the Champions League Team of the Season – alongside Neuer – whilst being named the best goalkeeper in La Liga the same day as his Ballon d’Or snub.

Oops! La Liga sees what France Football and its panel fail to see in Jan Oblak

Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid, Goalkeeper of the Year, La Liga

Was his omission due to a lack of title? Lloris ended trophy-less last campaign as well. Maybe his absence from Euro 2016? Zlatan Ibrahimovic crashed out in the group stage without scoring, but that didn’t hinder his odds.

Over to the Bundesliga, and the German league had a few representatives, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller picking up deserved nominations. Neuer’s inclusion was expected, but Arturo Vidal’s nod can be questioned, especially since Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasn’t considered.

This is hard to accept, because in a vote by professional Bundesliga players, he was named the third best in the league after Aubameyang and Lewandowski. You would think scoring 19 goals and setting up another 25 in all competitions would earn you some well-deserved recognition.

Vidal did win an international title on top of his success with Bayern Munich in the form of the Copa America Centenario; but the man named the Best Player of the tournament, Alexis Sanchez, missed out, alongside Chilean Spanish Primera Division-winning goalie Claudio Bravo.

Sanchez endured a below par season in the Premier League, but let us remind you that last season’s top-scorer Harry Kane was also snubbed, so maybe that league’s importance wasn’t of much consideration.

Even the EPL top-scorer didn't merit a nomination? OK...

Harry Kane, Tottenham, Golden Boot, English Premier League

Even though France Football and their panel’s choice for the Ballon d’Or prize will be backed by many, be it Messi; Cristiano; Griezmann; Suarez; or Bale, we just hope they give nominations where nominations are due with next year’s 30-man list.

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