The 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year was awarded Monday to Cristiano Ronaldo.
In recent weeks there was much debate as to which player deserved to take home the prestigious award, even though everyone assumed it was going to the Portuguese star.
Many people said that Leo Messi should win the award over Ronaldo, for what reasons I'm not sure. Barcelona underperformed in La Liga and were eliminated by Ronaldo's Manchester United in the Champions League semifinals.
However, in the end it was 42 goals from the midfield, the English Premier League title, and the Champions League title which ultimately spoke volumes to the voters. Cristiano Ronaldo was certainly a deserving recipient of the award even though many players and media will bash him for his alleged diving and off the field antics. Even Leo Messi left himself and Ronaldo off of his 2008 team of the year.
With 2008 stirring a lot of passion, I figure it is never to early to start the debate for who will be the 2009 winner.
Here is my top 10:
10. Xavi: Barcelona and Spain
He won't pour in the goals and the amazing statistics that some of the other midfielders on this list but he is a rock in the midfield. He creates the tempo for Barcelona, who have by far the best form in La Liga this season. He is very effective and one of the playmakers behind Barcelona's success.
9. Andrei Arshavin: Zenit St. Petersburg and Russia
Arshavin broke onto the scene during the European Championships and is expected to complete a move to either Manchester City or Arsenal. If he can prove himself with a team in England or Spain, he will be a serious contender for this award the way he scores.
8. Wayne Rooney: Manchester United and England
Rooney won't score more goals than some of the other forwards on this list but his play this season has certainly been one of the biggest reason Manchester United are in a great position to win another double. Rooney creates goals for all of his United teammates and his passion on the field makes him the heart and soul of the best club in Europe.
7. David Villa: Valencia and Spain
Villa was one of the leaders for Spain during the European Championships and his goalscoring pace has kept up into this season. He is second in La Liga in goals scored and one of the best strikers in the world, if not the best. He can score from anywhere and is poised for an excellent 2009.
6. Fernando Torres: Liverpool and Spain
Torres is another of the world's best strikers. Although he has been slowed by injuries so far this season, expect him to come back strong for Liverpool because he is a terrific finisher and Liverpool look like one of the strongest sides in England this far. Also they always bring their A game in the Champions League, where Torres can shine like he did in the European Championship Final.
5. Kaka: AC Milan and Brazil
The 2007 winner had a below average year in 2008, in which Milan failed to qualify for the Champions League, but is easily the best player in Serie A. He can create goals, score goals, and do everything you would want out of a footballer. He is probably the best all-around player on this list.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Inter Milan and Sweden
It is hard to think of someone who has improved at a faster rate than Zlatan. He is a terrific finisher with excellent long-range capabilities. His performances on the field are finally catching up to his giant ego.
3. Sergio Aguero: Atletico Madrid and Argentina
One of the brightest young talents in all of world football. He has been lethal so far in the Champions League. Even while playing on a team that is largely over-shadowed by Real Madrid, Aguero has managed to become one of the elite players in all of world football. His rapidly rising goal rate justifies his rapidly rising stock.
This battle for the top spot will most certainly however come down to Messi and Ronaldo. They are the two best players in world football and deserve every award they get.
2. Lionel Messi: Barcelona and Argentina
Messi has been very outspoken about the 2008 FIFA award. He certainly wants to win it really bad, but when he is lined up next to Cristiano Ronaldo it is hard for him to make an effective case.
Last season Barcelona struggled and Messi had around half of the goals that Ronaldo had. This season however, Barcelona are in top form in large part thanks to the contributions of Lionel Messi. Barcelona will certainly win La Liga and for that reason, Messi deserves to be second place on this list. The reason he is not first is that at the end of 2009, he will finish with fewer goals than Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona will finish behind Manchester United in the Champions League.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo: Manchester United and Portugal
It is hard to make a case against Ronaldo for the 2009 award. He will have a ton of momentum to take into the last half of the Premier League and the knockout stages of the Champions League. He has vowed to regain top form and I have to take his word for it after the year he had last season.
He was slowed by injury caused during international duty but has still managed eight goals in the Premier League alone. When compared to Messi, he is taller, faster, stronger, more powerful with his leg, better at free kicks, better with his head, and the main reason Manchester United won a spectacular double last season.
If Manchester United win the double again, as I expect them to do, especially after throttling Chelsea the other day, I think Ronaldo will once again make his case for the award by being the best player on the best team in all of Europe.
Let the debate begin