Ballon d'Or would have a surprise winner if it was based on stats


It's now a decade since the Ballon d'Or was won by anyone other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.

The accolade may be a two-horse race, but the 30-man shortlist always makes pretty interesting reading nonetheless.

It's been no different this year. Quite a few players have every right to feel aggrieved at missing out, with no place for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gonzalo Higuain, Alexis Sanchez, or Sergio Aguero.

Even if the award has lost a little of its prestige since it was taken over by France Football, it's still the best way of being recognised as ranking among the best players in the world.

This year, the biggest question will be whether Ronaldo can equal Messi's tally of five titles.

At this rate, we're going to have to wait until the pair retire to see anyone else vying for the gong, although the stats doing the rounds suggest that maybe it shouldn't be that way.

There can be no doubt that the La Liga superstars are the world's greatest - possibly ever, not just in terms of current players.

However, according to analysis from WhoScored, if the Ballon d'Or were decided on stats alone, Messi would come second and CR7 ninth.

This would be a surprise

It would be won by none other than Neymar, who left Barcelona for PSG with the sole intention of escaping the Argentine's shadow and establishing himself as the best.

At the time, that sounded a tad ridiculous from the €222million man, but he's clearly doing something right. Ligue 1 has a way to go before it's at the same level as La Liga, though the Brazilian's tally of six goals and five assists in six league games isn't to be sniffed at in any league.

It's looking more and more likely that when the Messi-Ronaldo era is finally over, it will be Neymar who replaces them at the top.


As for the rest of the list, Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara is third, and he wasn't even nominated. And it seems unlikely that Dries Mertens or Edin Dzeko will come as high as sixth and seventh.

Is the Ballon d'Or based on preconceptions of players rather than actual performances? One possible explanation is that players in weaker leagues have inflated stats, particularly if they've played fewer games to bring their average down.

As Philipp Lahm once said, though, the Ballon d'Or is essentially a popularity contest for strikers these days.

Who do you think should win Ballon d'Or 2017? Have your say in the comments. 

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