The Ballon d’Or shortlist for 2013 was announced on Tuesday with all the usual names appearing – Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Lahm etc. However, with it being a shortlist, there are bound to be some left off that could have been on the list. Here are the seven best that didn’t quite make the list…
7. Thibaut Courtois (Goalkeeper, Atletico Madrid)
One of the biggest surprises on the shortlist this year is the lack of goalkeepers with only Bayern Munich number one Manuel Neuer making the list. That leaves out the giant Belgian stopper Courtois who is near halfway through his third year on loan at Spanish side Atletico Madrid from Chelsea. It is in Madrid where he has come on leaps and bounds and has helped bring success to Atleti. That success included a man of the match performance in the Copa del Rey final against arch rivals Real Madrid in the Bernabeu which saw Atletico beat their fierce rivals for the first time in 14 years. He is also beginning to establish himself as Belgium’s number one and has helped them to reach the World Cup in 2014. It’s been a real breakout year for Courtois who can perhaps feel a little hard done by to be overlooked.
6. Isco (Midfielder, Malaga/Real Madrid)
Spain have an abundance of small, technical playmakers to choose from but few are more revered around the world than Isco. Just 21 years of age, this young man has already carried a club to the Champions League quarter finals and won youth international honours as well as earning a big money move to one of the giants of football. Not one single person squirmed over the 30 million euros Real Madrid payed out for this young man and no wonder. He’s technically brilliant and has that intangible, that extra bit of quality that can win games and trophies. Perhaps he didn’t make the list because he’s on the bench a little more in Madrid than when he was in Malaga and, if that is the case, that is a really shoddy reason.
5. Juan Mata (Midfielder, Chelsea)
Probably the best playmaker in the Premier League over the last two/three seasons, Mata is probably not on the list due to his current lack of game time under Jose Mourinho. However, he has been the inspiration and the difference maker for Chelsea since he arrived from Valencia and 2013 has been no different. Mata helped the Blues to secure the Europa League as well as a top four finish in the Premier League. While not a huge goalscorer, Mata has laid on more than plenty goals for team mates in 2013 and is so loved by Chelsea fans that a few have even questioned the judgement of Mourinho. Even so, Mata should really have been up there on the list.
4. Marco Reus (Forward, Borussia Dortmund)
Ah, the internet’s favourite footballer. They love everything about him – his hair, his technical ability, his German-ness (he’s really only missing an Andrea Pirlo-esque beard). They don’t love the fact that he hasn’t made the shortlist and he probably should have. Reus has established himself as one of the most exciting forwards in the modern game with his pace, technical ability and consistency making him one of the most dangerous players out there. 2013 has been a good year for Reus – he’s helped Dortmund to second in the Bundesliga and the Champions League final as well as helping Germnay to Brazil 2014 – but it obviously easn’t good enough. Many will feel (myself included) that Reus should probably be on the list. His omission poses a big question too – is Eden Hazard really better than him?
3. Arturo Vidal (Midfielder, Juventus)
What does this man have to do to get the recognition he deserves? Vidal was a standout in an excellent Juve midfield and was top scorer as they won a second successive Serie A title and he helped Chile reach the World Cup next summer. Yet, he’s not even on the list. Vidal is arguably the most complete midfield player in world football right now – he chips in with goals, is combative, covers lots of ground, can pass the ball beautifully – yet so many overlook the Chilean. Was Xavi better than Vidal in 2013? No. Yet he makes the shortlist. It’s a genuine crime that Vidal is not on the shortlist.
2. David Alaba (Defender, Bayern Munich)
Few players have been as consistent as Alaba in 2013. No left back has been as consistent as Alaba in 2013. In fact, no left back has come close to Alaba in 2013 which is incredible seeing as he was converted from midfield. It has really been a top, top year for the Austrian who is one of the stars of the national side and has won countless honours with Bayern including the Champions League. Alaba is fantastic going forward, chips in with goals, hard working and very solid at the back. He has flourished in the club side of the year and is one of the first names on the team sheet for Bayern and, at just 21, can still only get better which makes his omission all the more mystifying.
1. Mario Balotelli (Striker, Milan)
Number one is the most enigmatic characters in football – Mario Balotelli. He began 2013 with his future in doubt at Manchester City but is ending the year as AC Milan’s star man. This turnaround has been thanks, in part, to his greater focus which has allowed him to become one of the most feared strikers in the world. His remarkable of 17 goals in just 23 games for Milan this year is a testament to his quality and it begins to baffle when you think of why he was overlooked.
That is the list of the seven best overlooked players. Do you agree? Who would you put on the list? Get in touch and say.