Manchester United legend Paul Scholes believes there are more worthy winners of the 2014 Ballon d’Or award than his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo - namely Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Scholes says the German World Cup winner is his player of the year, but also reserved special mentions for Schweinsteiger’s international colleagues Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos.
Ronaldo is currently the overwhelming favourite to win the Ballon d’Or following a remarkable year with Real Madrid. The Portuguese superstar, who won the prestigious individual accolade for the second time in his career in January, was named as one of the three contenders to win the award alongside four-time winner Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer earlier this week.
Scholes: Schweinsteiger deserves Ballon d'Or
“The three nominees for the Ballon d’Or are all wonderful footballers, but I do find it difficult to accept that no German footballer, beyond Manuel Neuer, got a nomination.” Scholes wrote in his latest Independent column. “If I was to pick my standout it would have to be, in a World Cup year, a World Cup winner.
“Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger were all excellent, but if I had to pick one as my player of the year it would be Schweinsteiger.”
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Scholes’ choice appears to have been strongly influenced on the World Cup in Brazil: Schweinsteiger has played just two minutes of league football for Bayern Munich since July’s final against Argentina after injuring his left knee.
Last season, though, the 30-year-old made 23 league appearances - scoring four goals - as Bayern Munich secured their 24th Bundesliga title in Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge at the Allianz Arena.
Ronaldo failed to light up the World Cup finals, but has been in extraordinary goalscoring form for Real Madrid over the past 12 months. Last season he netted 51 goals in 47 appearances, while so far this season he has 26 goals from 20 matches.
He also played a pivotal role in Real Madrid’s Champions League triumph back in May.
Messi, meanwhile, was slightly below-par by his impeccably high standards in the first half of the season. However, he was named the best player at the World Cup after guiding Argentina to the final, and has been back to his best for Barcelona in recent months.
Is Scholes right: does Bastian Schweinsteiger deserve the Ballon d’Or more than Ronaldo and Messi? Let us know in the comments section below.