Several Manchester City stars were nominated for football’s highest individual honor, won by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for a record sixth time.
Several of Manchester City’s stars from a historic domestic treble-winning campaign were in the running for the Ballon D’Or. Although none were in real contention to pip Lionel Messi, in my view the greatest to ever play football, to his sixth Golden Ball, there were some interesting takeaways from Monday’s ceremony.
City’s all-time leading goalscorer finished the lowest of the team’s five nominees to claim the award, his exact position from a year ago. The Argentinian finished with 32 goals and 10 assists in all competitions a year ago and already has 13 goals in 16 appearances so far in 2019/20.
Kevin de Bruyne-14th
Certainly a lower finish than his ability would suggest. Although hampering injuries prevented the Belgian from being the consistent engine in City’s dominance last season, his return in the early part of 2019 and his form to start this season would suggest that he should have been ranked higher. Given that the Ballon D’Or is a calendar year award, De Bruyne has been one of the world’s best this year.
This ranking truly shows the flaws in the award. Rather than awarding it to the best players in the world, France Football has shown a need to tie it almost directly to the Champions League, culminating in three Liverpool players finishing in the top five. Messi’s win this year was the first time since 2014 it did not go to a player who won the trophy. Sterling scored 25 goals and provided 18 assists in a stunning campaign last season where he won the FWA Player of the Season, the PFA Young Player of the Year, the Premier League, the Carabao Cup, and the FA Cup. For comparison, Liverpool’s Sadio Mané, who finished in fourth, picked up just one more goal and had 13 less assists having played just one game less than Sterling. The fact that Sterling finished eight spots lower shows the award’s over-reliance on team Champions League success as its only barometer.
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Although Mahrez’s second career top-10 finish and his first in sky blue is excellent, he simply was not better than Sterling last season. However, he manages to crack the top 10 due to his excellent run culminating in Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations win this summer. He’s a top player and a great option on the right hand side for Pep Guardiola.
Right next to Sterling as the biggest snub of the night. The Ballon D’Or values team success so highly yet fails to recognize that more trophies exist in football than simply the Champions League. Silva was named Manchester City’s Player of the Season in a stunning campaign in attacking midfield, was named to the PFA Team of the Year, and won the Nations League with Portugal (defeating runner-up Virgil van Dijk). City had the most successful domestic campaign in history in the world’s biggest, most-watched, and most competitive league, outdueling eventual European champions Liverpool over a 38-match league season, yet none of the team’s players finished higher than ninth. Given Silva’s importance to this team and its success, the clear criteria laid out by France Football, he should have easily finished within the top five. The Sterling example shows that statistics are not the deciding factor, yet Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappé, neither of whom won more than their respective domestic leagues, were placed above Bernardo in the name of statistics.