Who is the best footballer in the World?
A short-list has been announced for both the male and female categories for the annual World Player of the Year. On December 17th 2007 the awards will made, and the winner will be able to claim to be the best footballer in the world. For this year at least!
In previous years the men's award has gone to such prestigious names as Cannavaro, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo & Ronaldinho. Perhaps if the awards had started earlier than 1991 it would have almost certainly included Diego Maradona, and Pele.
None of this years nominations for the men's award have ever won it before. Let's have a look at the candidates.
Portuguese midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the best player in the Premier League at this time. At 22 years old, the Manchester United winger is at the top of his game. He favours his right foot, but has a strong left and can play in any position along the forward line. Ironically perhaps, as someone who was often derided for being lightweight, Ronaldo has a better all round game than the other candidates, with more strength and tracking back defensive skills than he is often credited for.
The award has never been given to a player in the English Premier League, despite being home to some of the best players in the World, but this is surely the brightest talent the Premier League has seen for quite some time. Ronaldo simply lights up the Premiership with his flair and skill on the ball, much to Manchester United fans delight.
Ronaldo's trademarks are his stepovers and his “snakelike” free kick. He swerves the ball so it changes direction twice in mid air, often hitting the target. All in all last season Ronaldo scored 17 goals in 34 appearances.
He is a very strong candidate, but I wonder if at 22 he might have to wait till next year.
AC Milan's Brazilian midfield star Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, (Universally known as Kaka) is at 25 years old, simply a joy to watch, and at the peak of his career. A right foot attacking midfielder who can also play as a second forward left or centre, Kaka is the King of intelligent footballers. He has superb technical ability, and can unlock a defence as if he holds the master keys.
A European Champions league winner, and already the FIFPro Player of the Year, in my view Kaka has to be the favourite. Although he is the lowest goalscorer of the 3 short-listed candidates, he still scored an impressive 8 goals from 31 last season.
Like the other two candidates Kaka is brilliant from dead ball situations, especially free kicks.
The Brazilan's main advantage is his intelligent game play, and sheer presence. Out of the 3 candidates he is arguably the best supporting striker, his unquestionable technical ability, and unselfish team work will invariably create chances and goals for his team.
Argentine Lionel Messi, plays for Barcelona in La Liga, Spain. Some have called Messi the new Diego Maradona, because of the obvious Argentine heritage and talent. One day perhaps he will live up to that title, he certainly is a star with enormous potential.
At 20 he is the youngest of the 3 contenders, another attacking Midfielder, but like Ronaldo more of a winger than Kaka he can also play as a forward, left right centre.
Messi is the only Left footed player of the 3 candidates. I feel that his disadvantage this time around is that he is probably too young and arriving in the shadow of Ronaldo it might be too much of an ask. Scoring 14 goals from 26 games last season, Messi instinctively knows how to find the target.
The Argentine maestro is only just emerging as a World Class Superstar, whereas the other 2 candidates are now well established. He will definitely be a future contender again. The world is yet to see the best of Lionel Messi, but when we do, the world had better watch out.
Next in this series I will discuss the Shortlist for the Women's award.
You can vote on your own personal choices on the BellaOnline Soccer Forum.
I would love to see you there!