Lionel Messi has been named on FIFA’s three-man shortlist for the 2014 Ballon D’or, as the Argentina captain hopes to claim his fifth award since claiming his first in 2009. In order to win this year he will need to see off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo and Germany goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer.
While some have tried to argue that Messi should not be considered for the award following Barcelona’s relative failure in 2014, his individual stats are still formidable. Perhaps comparing Messi by his own ludicrously high standards it was a less than stellar year but there are stil few players in world football who can compare.
In the last month, Messi has become the leading scorer in La Liga history and broken Raul’s Champions League record, in addition to leading Argentina to a World Cup Final.
Barcelona failing to win La Liga or the Champions League and Messi’s failure to impact on the World Cup Final appear to be the factors against the 27-year-old. However, this overlooks the fact that Argentina would most likely not have reached the Final had it not been for their captain earlier in the tournament.
This is all the more important when comparing with Ronaldo, whose Portugal side crashed out early with the striker struggling for fitness.
As an individual award it is a point of discussion whether or not the team’s collective achievements should come into consideration. Barcelona’s barren 2014 was certainly not the fault of Messi and scoring 52 goals for club and country is the stuff of dreams for most footballers.
As it is, Messi is probably an outsider to win his fifth Ballon D’or, particularly as the voting took place prior to his record breaking achievements recently. 2014 may not be Messi’s year but there will be other opportunities to add to his record breaking collection.