Ronaldo takes World Player award, Messi waits for next year

January 12, 2009

Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo was named FIFA World Player of the Year on Monday night, adding the award to the Ballon d’Or he picked up from France Football and the FIFPro World Player of the Year title voted for by his fellow professionals.

It was an inevitable choice after the season he had for United in 2007-08 but I’m pretty confident that next year the award will be going to the man who finished second this time. Lionel Messi is playing ridiculously well at the moment, just streets ahead of anyone else in Spain, and I don’t think too many people would disagree that on current form he is the world’s best player.

On the basis of what the two achieved in 2008, though, Ronaldo deserves the award, I think. Here’s how we described him:

The Portuguese winger is blessed with strength, pace, aerial ability and savage shooting power and he invariably delivers when it matters most — his magnificent header in last season’s Champions League final a prime example.

He arrived at Manchester United just as David Beckham was leaving but he was no straight replacement. While Beckham was all precision passing and energy, Ronaldo has more tricks up his sleeve than a circus magician.

His initial tendency to over-indulge his exhibitionist personality with endless stepovers has gradually receded over the years at Old Trafford and last season he turned into a ruthless scoring machine.

An extraordinary tally of 42 goals propelled United to the Champions League and Premier League double and earned him a place in United folklore alongside George Best.

Fair enough, I’d say.

PHOTO: Cristiano Ronaldo holds the FIFA World Player 2008 award in Zurich, Jan 12, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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On current form Messi should win this year’s accolades and Barcelona would probably take apart anyone over two legs in the Champions League. But I hope Benzema can produce one last piece of magic for Lyon before he joins us next summer.

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