HomeGridBallon d’Or: Lionel Messi, Ronaldo or Ribery? Scott Johnson November 11, 2013 Grid, Lists, Soccer 1 Comment For the past few years Lionel Messi has dominated the soccer world, winning the Ballon d’Or a record 4 times in a row. He’s also been a hugely influential part of the Barcelona team that has dominated Spanish and European football, scoring 285 goals and assisting 98 since the start of the 2008 season. But this year will not see him claim the prestigious award for the 5th time. Or at least it shouldn’t. The debate has been raging for years as to whom the greatest player in the world is at the moment, and I think it’s time for the man so often considered No.2 to step into the limelight. Cristiano Ronaldo would have had his name on the award 3 times if not for the Argentinian, and this year he has been the outstanding player in world soccer. Since signing for Real Madrid in 2009 he has scored 162 goals in 148 games, and this season he has scored 24 goals in 17 games already. He is the complete footballer physically and mentally, and had Real Madrid won more in previous years it may have been him and not Messi’s name on the Ballon d’Or in previous years. The other main contender for this year’s award has to be Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribéry. He has been the selfless mirror to opposite winger and teammate Arjen Robben, and was part of the Bayern team that deservedly won the treble last year. He also (potentially) made more impact with his goals and assists than Messi and Ronaldo. Whilst he can’t match shear number of goals and assists, which I think can be accounted for by the fact that thee Bundesliga has a reputation for being tighter defensively than La Liga, Ronaldo and Messi weren’t always the key man for their team. Only 15 of Ronaldo’s La Liga goals last season came when Madrid weren’t already ahead, and Messi scored 20 in the same situation. Ribery was influential all the way through the season in all the big matches, including providing a brilliant creative performance in the Champions League Final, and also provides defensively, something that Messi and Ronaldo do not regularly do. Ribery is arguably the best team player out of the three main contenders for the award, but I feel that the fact he doesn’t play in Spain may hurt his chances. Since the Ballon d’Or has been awarded by Fifa (2010) no player outside Spain has even made the final three. Zlatan Ibrahimovich also deserves a mention, as do Mesut Özil and Andrea Pirlo, and any one of these would be worth winners. However I think the final three will be Messi, Ronaldo and Ribery, with Ronaldo stepping up to take the award.