Football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hernan Crespo.

Hernan Crespo: Messi and Ronaldo stopped Zlatan Ibrahimovic winning Ballon d'Or

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic will go down as one of the best strikers in football history when he calls time on his football career.

The Swede has won titles in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France. If all goes to plan, he’ll add a Premier League winners' medal to the collection in May.

Yet, at the age of 34, it appears likely that a Ballon d’Or trophy will elude him.

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It’s certainly not seen as a travesty that the Manchester United forward has never won the coveted award. If Andres Iniesta hasn’t won it, there’s no way Ibrahimovic should have.

The absence of a Champions League winners medal hasn’t helped his cause but the biggest factor in Ibrahimovic never being viewed as the world’s best player is, of course, that duo in La Liga.

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Not since 2007 has the Ballon d’Or been handed to someone other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. The pair have enjoyed an unparalleled era of dominance.

FBL-FIFA-BALLONDOR-AWARD

Some great players haven't won the Ballon d'Or

Exclude Messi and Ronaldo from the discussion and Iniesta and Luis Suarez would have earned the title of world’s best player at some point.

And Ibrahimovic’s former teammate, Hernan Crespo, is willing to throw his name into the ring.

The pair played three seasons together at Inter Milan between 2006 and 2009 and Crespo was effusive in his praise of the United striker.

“Make no mistake about it, he is a phenomenon,” the Argentinian wrote for The Guardian. “He has been unlucky to play in the same era as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, otherwise he would have been the best player of his time.”

Inter Milan's forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic cut a much calmer figure during his past four years in France than the one we saw at Inter, Barcelona and AC Milan, something Crespo attributes to his growing maturity.

“The Ibrahimovic I played with in 2008-09 was a different one to the one we see now,” he added. “Back then, he was very impulsive: a fantastic champion who could decide games on his own but still too young to understand about the importance of the whole group.

“Now, when I went to see him at Paris Saint-Germain, I noticed that he was much more mature with a fantastic relationship with a lot of the players in the PSG squad, from Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore to Ezequiel Lavezzi.

“This was an Ibra who had learned the importance of the squad that was competing at the top of the league and in the Champions League.”

Have Messi and Ronaldo stopped Ibrahimovic from winning the Ballon d'Or? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Topics:
Inter Milan
Wayne Rooney
Manchester United
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
UEFA Champions League
Football
Premier League
Jose Mourinho

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