Saturday,21 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)
Saturday,21 July, 2018
Issue 1278, (14 - 20 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

It’s No 5 for Messi

The little giant is voted the best player in the world for the fifth time, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

As expected, arguably the best player in the history of the game Lionel Messi picked up his fifth Ballon d’Or as he beat off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona teammate Neymar.

There was no doubt really about the 2015 winner given the incredible season Messi had after guiding his team to the treble before rounding it off with the FIFA Club World Cup.

The debate this time was about who would be the runner up given that Neymar had virtually the same club success as Messi in 2015. However, Ronaldo finished second after receiving 28% of the total votes while the Brazilian magician received only eight per cent. The Argentine superstar received an incredible 42 per cent of the votes to make it a straightforward win.

Many people argued that Luis Suarez should have been in the top three instead of Ronaldo but it seems that most of those who voted still see Ronaldo and Messi as the best two players on the planet. People who were eligible to vote are the managers and captains of all national teams worldwide as well as the top sports journalists in some countries.

Ronaldo, who had beaten Messi for the prestigious accolade in the last two years, was hoping to seal a Ballon d’Or hattrick but even he himself knew he had no chance this year. As for Messi, his previous wins came between 2009 and 2012 with the latest triumph indicating his return to the top of the world game.

Prior to Monday’s ceremony in Zurich, Messi admitted he would swap his Ballon d’Or successes for just one World Cup after the heartbreak of losing the 2014 final to Germany. “A lot of time has passed since 2009. I’ve grown and learned a few things,” he said.“We grow and learn from everything. I’m trying to add things to my game. It’s a very special moment for me, to be back here on this stage winning another Ballon d’Or after being in the audience watching Cristiano win for two years,” Messi said upon receiving his award.

“It’s incredible that it’s my fifth; it’s much more than anything I dreamed of as a kid. I want to thank all those who voted for me first of all. I also want to thank obviously my team-mates, as I always say without them none of this would ever have been possible.”

Messi scored a remarkable 52 goals for club and country across the calendar year, five less than Ronaldo, as well as contributing 26 assists in 61 appearances, scoring or assisting every 0.78 games with the previous figures playing a key role in everything his team achieved the past season especially winning the Champions League again after a four-year absence.

Just for the record, fourth place went to the deadly Lewnadowski who had an incredible year with Bayern Munich. Fifth place went to the best goalkeeper in the world Manuel Neuer. Sixth place went to the biggest victim in the list, Suarez, who many people and pundits wanted in the top three, but sadly for him the votes didn’t even get him a top five place.

Iniesta, Yaya Toure and Mascherano completed the top 10 with the likes of Gareth Bale, Ibrahimovic and Muller failing to make it to the very top despite having unbelievable seasons of their own.

The familiar sight of Messi and Ronaldo competing for the top prize each season in the past six seasons could very much change in coming years starting with this season, as Suarez, Neymar and Bale started the season with a bang, scoring goals for fun while Ronaldo has so far struggled for both goals and form compared to his usual standards. However, Messi’s fans shouldn’t worry much as the small-sized Argentine magician seems determined to win a sixth ballon d’Or, seeing how he started the season.

They say that football players reach their peak at the age of 28 and Messi just turned 28 a few months ago so it’s simply beyond scary to even think that he is only starting to play at his peak now. Thierry Henry described Messi best when he was asked about the best player he’d played with. He said it had to be Dennis Bergkamp “because the Dutch playmaker is human but Messi is not”, so he couldn’t really compare him with any human being playing the game.

2016 promises to be very exciting for Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Suarez so it’s fair enough to say we’re extremely lucky to be living at the same time as these stars.

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