Predicting 5 Newcomers to the 2012 FIFA Ballon D'Or Shortlist
Almost 11 months after Lionel Messi was named the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or winner, soccer's governing body is prepared to release a 23-man shortlist for the award on October 29.
In this time span, new champions have been crowned and many players have upped their performance, joining the ranks of the world's elite.
The following five players are prime examples of that, and deserve recognition from FIFA based on their play in the last 11 months, .
Yaya Touré: Center Midfielder, Manchester City
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In his second year at Man City, Touré had nine goals and nine assists in all competitions, seemingly underwhelming stats for a Ballon d'Or candidate.
However, this is because many of his best qualities, such as his strong aerial play, passing composure, vision and defensive discipline don't show up on the stat sheet. Constantly making smart decisions and doing the little things well, Touré became a leader on the Blues and helped them win their first English title in 44 years.
After coming from a star-studded Barcelona team, the Ivorian international is now the star of his team, and is finally getting noticed for his genius-level soccer IQ.
Robin Van Persie: Forward, Manchester United
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Although his prolific 2011-2012 season didn't come with his current squad, it surely won't be forgotten anytime soon by Arsenal fans.
With 30 EPL goals, the ex-Gunner claimed the league's Golden Boot award, managing to record nine assists as well. In perhaps his best year in London, RVP also netted six goals from FA Cup and Champions League play, showing world-class finishing ability throughout the campaign.
Aside from a disappointing three games for the Netherlands in the European Championship, van Persie had a fantastic year otherwise, cementing his place as one of the world's best strikers.
Thiago Silva: Center-Back, Paris Saint-Germain
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In what was a disappointing campaign for second-place AC Milan, the complete opposite can be said for Silva.
The 28-year-old Brazilian regular emerged as one of the best defenders in the world, earning 27 starts for Milan. He showed his defensive composure with only two yellow cards on the season, and less than one foul per game. An extremely strong and physical specimen at 6', Silva is also quite comfortable on offense, equipped with powerful heading and shooting ability.
Perhaps the most telling thing that can be said about Silva's ability is the fee at which he was bought by PSG—an astonishing 42 million euros paid to Milan.
Falcao: Forward, Atlético Madrid
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Playing for a smaller club than most Ballon d'Or candidates, Falcao needed a prolific season to garner the attention of the footballing world.
And he had one.
In a La Liga campaign where Ronaldo and Messi racked up most of the headlines, Falcao quietly had his best season, scoring 24 goals and posting three assists in 33 starts. While this was clearly a solid campaign for the Colombian striker, he really turned it on in Europa League play.
In 13 starts in the tournament, he netted 12 goals with only 28 shots, good for a rate of fewer than three shots per goal.
With his efficient finishing he helped Madrid win the Europa League and then the SuperCup, with a first-half hat trick against Chelsea in a 4-1 romp.
Sergio Ramos: Center-Back/ Right-Back, Real Madrid
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Few could ask for a better season.
As an integral member of two world-class squads, Ramos won La Liga with Real Madrid and the European Championship with Spain.
In 34 starts for Real, Ramos served as reliable defender, displaying speed and stamina in a role that he's been in for years. Despite sometimes being criticized for lacking discipline, Ramos' ball skills and attacking ability almost give Madrid another midfielder on the right flank, who possesses surprising crossing ability for a full-back.
With three goals and five assists from the back, one could only wonder how much he'd thrive in a midfield role.