Ballon d’Or shortlist should give Premier League pause for thought
England performed well below expectation at the World Cup in South Africa and judging by the FIFA Ballon d’Or list announced on Tuesday the stock of the Premier League is not at its highest either.
Just three players from the league that likes to call itself the best in the world are on the list and it would be a huge surprise if any of them made it into the top three:
Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid), Daniel Alves (Brazil, Barcelona), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, Inter Milan), Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Arsenal), Diego Forlan (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid), Asamoah Gyan (Ghana, Stade Rennes, then Sunderland), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Julio Cesar (Brazil, Inter Milan), Miroslav Klose (Germany, Bayern Munich), Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich), Douglas Maicon (Brazil, Inter Milan), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Thomas Mueller (Germany, Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Germany, Werder Bremen, then Real Madrid), Carles Puyol (Spain, Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Netherlands, Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands, Inter Milan), David Villa (Spain, Valencia, then Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Spain, Real Madrid), Xavi Hernandez (Spain, Barcelona)
Have a glance through the full list (in all its glory above) and you’ll see just Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Asamoah Gyan representing England’s Premier League, and the latter has barely figured for his new club Sunderland.
I doubt anyone in English football will be too worried by this, with the money from TV rights still rolling in, but perhaps they should be.
In terms of star quality La Liga makes the Premier League look strictly second division. Serie A, derided over the past few seasons, now boasts the European Cup holders and a resurgent AC Milan and even the Bundesliga has a healthier than usual representation thanks to the exploits of Champions League finalists Bayern Munich and Joachim Loew’s fearless Nationalmannschaft.
It was different, perhaps, when Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres and the like were being described as among the world’s finest but performances at the World Cup that were indifferent to poor have made those assessments look like so much hype.
The Premier League still commands enormous global appeal which translates into massive revenues for the clubs. That will continue for the foreseeable future but the fact that the most exciting players from the World Cup are all delighting audiences elsewhere should at least give the Premier League pause for thought.
(On the list itself, I guess the top three will come from Xavi, Iniesta, Sneijder, Ronaldo and Messi. Xavi would get my vote. How about you?)
PHOTO: Xavi (R) celebrates Andres Iniesta’s goal for Barcelona against Valencia during their la Liga match at the Nou Camp, October16, 2010. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino