Talking Soccer: Ballon d'Or nominations released

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Valencia and FC Barcelona at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. Messi is contending for another Ballon d'Or Award. (Manu Fernandez/AP Photo)

The list of potential Ballon d’Or winners was released yesterday, with 30 players across the world being selected as nominees for the award that goes to the best male soccer player in the world. Obvious favorites include previous winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. However players like Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann could show their way into the race depending on the rest of the year and based on the great international play they showed this summer.

The real surprise from the list of nominations was the amount of world class players not included. Mesut Ozil, N’Golo Kante, Gerard Pique and Jerome Boateng are just a few of the players who were not selected for the nominations. Mesut Ozil has shown himself to be the best true number 10 in the world right now, while N’Golo Kante could very well be considered the most valuable player on Leicester City and number one midfielder in the Euro Cup this summer. Not only was Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng snubbed as a center-back, but both of Juventus’ centerbacks, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgia Chiellini, were not as chosen despite leading Europe’s best defense.

This, along with the fact that players like Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero were nominated, shows a focus more on marketability of players than overall skill. Despite Vardy helping to take Leicester City to a Premier League championship, he is not one of the best players in the entire world and Aguero barely played last season, in the summer, or at the start of this one. N’Golo Kante has shown he is one of the best this past year, especially due to his fabulous tournament play with France, but his quiet demeanor and lack of media attention has left him hung out to dry by the committee. By shifting the award to one that favors how well a player sells and not his actual accomplishments nor skill, the meaning of the award is lessened.

If I had to choose one player to win the award, however, it would have to be Luis Suarez. Not only did he score more goals than Lionel Messi last season with 42, he also provided 23 assists in his campaign. To even be able to touch goal scoring records held by Messi is insane to say the least, but to do it on the same team as him shows world class skill coupled with a physical specimen that is filled to the brim with finishing talent. Plus, Messi did deescalate his status when he missed the game-winning penalty kick in the Copa America final against nomination-snubbed Alexis Sanchez’ winning Chile side.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.