Luka Modric and his Ballon D’Or, robberies and marketing
Luka Modric became the first footballer from Croatia to win the Ballon D’Or, ending 10 years of dominance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi over the most popular individual award in international football. First who’s not named Messi or Ronaldo to win it ever since Kaka in 2007. First from his country, after Davor Suker lost to Zinedine Zidane in 1998, the year of Croatia’s other, outbested, performance in the World Cup: reaching the semi-finals in their debut. First player to ever win UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, The Best FIFA Men’s Player, the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball and the Ballon D’Or, all in just one year. Some people have rejoiced, finally we see a different player to win the Ballon D’Or, something a good number of fans of this sport have been waiting for years. Some call it robbery, Cristiano deserved to win the Ballon, and Modric only won it cause he stayed at Real Madrid and Perez payed France Football to award the Croatian instead; unlike Cristiano who got in a fight with Perez for not giving him a bigger wage for all of his hard work, packed his bags and left for Juventus. I didn’t want to write an article about this Ballon D’Or awarding until I had the full picture of the reception of the results. Honestly, who would have thought things would turn out this way with how we’ve been used for things to turn out? This year’s Ballon D’Or results have been the most controversial in years, for two things: Modric winning the award over Ronaldo, and Mbappe and Griezmann somehow ranking above Messi, who didn’t even make the Final 4 this year.
Modric vs Ronaldo: did the Croatian deserve Ballon D’Or?
I will be completely honest here. People still tend to see the Ballon D’Or as the award crowning the best footballer of that year. That, is not the case anymore, as a great number of football fans all across Europe and the world, had come to learn. With all the marketing plaguing football like an incurable disease, everything is heavily influenced by sponsors, interests and… you get the idea. So, my honest opinion of how the awarding should have been and who deserved to win the Ballon D’Or this year is… no one! That’s right, I don’t think any player the past season was good enough to deserve to get their hands on this trophy, which let’s not forget, crossed the hands of footballers like Di Stefano, Cruyff, Platini, Beckenbauer, Matthaus, Marco van Basten, Ronaldo the Brazilian, Weah, Zidane, Ronaldinho, Kaka, and so on. Yes, football it’s not the same level of spectacular as it was before, but does it even matter? Ok, let’s just look at the individual stats of players, who do you think deserved to win this year?
Messi? Well, he’s goalscorer in La Liga, but other than that, did he do anything note worthy? If I recall correctly, Barcelona has been eliminated in the Champions League quarter-finals by none other than Roma. Messi especially played extremely bad in the 0–3 defeat at Olimpico which had the Blaugranas out. After a 4–1 advantage in the first leg nonetheless. The goals he scored? He won the Golden Boot for that.
Salah? Yeah, sure, he improved a lot from the player he was when he left Roma to join Liverpool, and Jurgen Klopp has shaped him into a goal scoring machine, at least for the past season, and he has shown great technique and everything, but it’s just off. Sure, he netted 32 goals in the Premier League for Liverpool, which is a lot more than the 2 goals he scored in his previous EPL adventure at Chelsea, but he’s still not Ballon D’Or material. Besides, he’s won the Puskas award.
Mbappe? Ok, he’s been on a top level ever since Monaco won Ligue 1, and he’s won the World Cup with France at 19. But, he’s still too young and inexperienced, and besides, he’s playing in his native France at Paris Saint-Germain, and we all know the level there is quite low. Griezmann? He played his part in France’s World Cup win, and all, but in all honesty I wouldn’t give the Ballon D’Or to a player who won just the Europa League.
That leaves just Cristiano and Modric, and to be fair, I don’t think either of them deserved to win, but that’s another story. So to say, Cristiano had been in a decline recently. Yes, he scored 44 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid, but he struggled to do so at first, just like he did when he moved at Juventus this fall. And Portugal didn’t do much of a thing at the World Cup, in for an exit to Uruguay in the round of 16.
Arguably Modric would be the best choice. He’s played an important part in Real Madrid winning it’s third consecutive Champions League trophy, and he’s led Croatia into the World Cup final, delivering notable performances against teams like Argentina and England all the way there. In terms of stats, with 4 goals and 10 assists, though, he loses to Cristiano, who delivered 47 goals with the same number of assists. Ok, a midfielder isn’t really known for scoring goals. That’s not to say all of his performances was so good that he outright deserved to win the Ballon D’Or.
Ballon D’Or awarding in the past decade has been anything but fair. 2010: Iniesta won the World Cup with Spain, while Wesley Sneijder led Inter Milan to a treble, yet Messi won the Ballon. 2013: Ribery had a big contribution to Bayern Munich’s treble and would have, undoubtedly deserved the Ballon, but somehow Cristiano won it. 2014: Manuel Neuer had a fantastic year, but again, Ronaldo won it. How am I supposed to explain how players like Iniesta, Xavi, Sneijder, Ribery or Neuer never won a Ballon D’Or while Modric did. The thought itself is revolting.
Mbappe and Griezmann topping Messi: that’s cute…
Let me begin by saying I am not a Messi fan. Sure, I harbor a great deal of respect for him (or more than for Cristiano) for his behavior on and off pitch, and his skills, but I’m not exactly the person who’d go on and say he’s the best player who’s ever had the grace of playing this sport or whatever. But let me say one thing: Messi coming in 5th place, beyond the likes of Mbappe and Griezmann it’s way too ridiculous.
I mean, what did any of them do to actually deserve a higher ranking than Messi? Stats-wise, Griezmann scored 29 goals in club football in all competitions for Atletico, while Messi netted around 45 goals. Of course he did, he just won the Golden Boot, silly. Yes, but considering Messi and Griezmann do play in the same championship after all, where Griezmann has 19 goals and Messi scored 34… it’s unnerving really. Sure, he scored 4 goals in the World Cup, and so did Denis Cheryshev. Besides, Atletico has been knocked out quite early in the Champions League last year, in that group with Chelsea and Roma, if I recall correctly, and had to settle down for playing Europa League football. As I said, I wouldn’t award the Ballon D’Or to a player who won Europa League, much less rank him above one who had a big contribution in his side winning the national championship and actually played Champions League football (despite the outcome…). Placing Griezmann on 3rd place now, when he clearly didn’t have the same performances as in 2016 when he actually deserved that ranking, is off. But France Football had to award their own, of course…
As for Mbappe coming 4th… Oh, come on. He had a good season in his native France for Paris Saint-Germain, where he scored 13 goals. We all know how the French championship is the worst between the top championships of Europe in terms of competitivity and teams and, besides, Cavani scored 28! Heck, even Neymar scored 19 goals in that league, and he spent most of the season injured (btw, said Neymar didn’t even bother to come to the Ballon D’Or ceremony, he was too busy staying home and streaming Call of Duty). Ok, ok, World Cup winner, 4 goals netted there and youngest player to score in a World Cup final. But to say he was better than Messi, as low as the Argentinian has fallen compared to latest season, is like saying Manchester is Blue.
I can’t take seriously or care about any topic regarding the Ballon D’Or and I recommend you do the same if you’re dissatisfied with the results. Whether it was awarded by FIFA or France Football, it’s become just one hell of a scam that has no relevance to what’s played on the pitch whatsoever. Probably Modric has sold more shirts once Croatia reached the World Cup final than Cristiano after he signed for Juventus. Who the hell knows.