Lionel Messi is one of the greatest players to have ever played the beautiful game, without a shadow of doubt. Photo: EPA
Lionel Messi is one of the greatest players to have ever played the beautiful game, without a shadow of doubt. Photo: EPA

Messi won on reputation, not performance

By Minenhle Mkhize Time of article published Dec 10, 2019

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Lionel Messi is one of the greatest players to have ever played the beautiful game, without a shadow of doubt.

The Barcelona talisman is a joy to watch. But let’s be honest, he didn’t deserve to walk away with the Ballon d’Or.

Messi was gifted the Ballon d’Or he did not deserve. It was handed to him on a silver platter - a sure case of sentiment ruling over reality.

Virgil van Dijk should have been crowned the best player in the world.

The Liverpool defender has been on top of his game for the past 12 months. The Dutch defender was colossal for Liverpool as they lifted the Uefa Champions League crown. He was unfortunate to miss out on the English Premier League championship which the Reds lost the to Manchester City by one point last season. They only suffered one defeat the whole season.

At the end of the season, Van Dijk was crowned the best player in England and was also duly and deservedly chosen as the best player and the best defender in the Champions League.

What did Messi win to be crowned the best player in the world? I cannot help but feel that he won the award on reputation.

Messi and his troops at Barcelona were bundled out of the Champions League in the semi-finals by the self same Liverpool for whom Van Dijk starred.

The Argentinian’s only piece of success in the Champions League last season was the Golden Boot award. But his goals didn’t help Barca to go all the way. Van Dijk was supreme at the back and his contribution inspired Liverpool to glory. Domestically, Messi won the Spanish La Liga and top goalscorer.

His statistics were dismal in the Copa America. He netted one goal in five appearances. Argentina were dumped out of the competition at the semi-final stage.

On other hand, Van Dijk helped the Netherlands to the Uefa National League championship final where they lost to Portugal.

I’m not saying Messi is a bad player. He isn’t. He is an entertainer of note and lethal in front of goal, but he won this year’s Ballon d’Or on reputation.

Understandably so because of the criteria that is used to select the best player.

Normally, the masses voted for who they like instead of who is the best. That’s why Messi reigned supreme. Obviously, that is not his fault. He didn’t vote for himself but the masses voted for him. He voted for Sadio Mane of Liverpool.

Maybe it is time that the voting criteria is reconsidered in order to make sure that most deserving player receives the award.

Messi’s triumph has left a bitter taste in my mouth and sparked a lot of debates. That is not what we want to witness. These awards should be such that there is at least a modicum of consensus that the best player has won.

We can only achieve that by selecting a committee that will sit down and deliberate on who should be crowned the best player. The committee can be made up of former players and some current coaches. This mass voting system must be stopped.

@minenhlecr7


The Star

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