Real Madrid assistant coach Zinedine Zidane believes Franck Ribery should win the 2013 Ballon d'Or for his contributions to Bayern Munich's success this year, according to comments made on French radio station RMC.
While also acknowledging the merits of Los Blancos star Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Zidane opted for his countryman as his selection for the main prize.
Per ESPNFC's Dermot Corrigan, Zidane backed both Ronaldo and Ribery's claims for the award, saying:
They both deserve it. But I would give it to Franck because he was fundamental in the three trophies that Bayern won last season. The problem is there is a kid who has scored 55 goals in a season. Anyway, I do not decide.
Ribery played a crucial role in Bayern's historic treble-winning season of 2012-13, scoring 10 goals and providing 14 assists in the Bundesliga alone for Jupp Heynckes' side, per Soccerway.
Add in his five Champions League assists, including a key contribution in the final, and it is clear that Ribery has had a sensational year.
The difficulty is, though, that both Ronaldo and Messi have continued to set astonishing standards for their respective sides—even if they did not enjoy Champions League success this time around.
Goals may not be everything in football, but add in the pair's considerable assist totals and it is clear they are phenomenons.
Ribery, for all Bayern's success, does not come close to matching the duo for direct goal contributions—despite operating in a similar area of the pitch.
FIFA's premier individual award, though, has often tended to be awarded to players who have contributed to major successes for their side.
Given that the honour is voted for by captains and coaches of national teams around the world, it will depend on their interpretations of what makes a player's performances stand out above all others.
Ribery may well be deserving of the crown, but the intense levels of publicity that both Messi and Ronaldo receive will count against him.
It is commonly regarded that the duo are the best two players in the world, and indeed, they have occupied the top two positions in the voting in each of the last two years.
With that in mind, it will take many more Zidane-type figures to come out in support of Ribery before enough of world football's representatives decide to go against the trend and hand the Frenchman the prize.
The Ballon d'Or, ultimately, is world football's biggest popularity contest.
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