When it comes to world football, the most prestigious individual award is the Ballon d'Or. The pinnacle of individual trophies, the Ballon d'Or is what every player dreams of winning, right up there with the World Cup, their own domestic league, and the UEFA Champions League.
While the past four years of World Player of the Year have been decidedly monochromatic, many are calling for a different winner this year. Unlike the previous few years, this one would not come from La Liga, but from the Bundesliga.
Franck Ribery makes his trade as left winger for Bayern Munich, a club of the highest pedigree in both Germany and Europe. The decades have seen legendary players come and go, and in many fans' eyes, Ribery is amongst these legends.
Following a spectacular campaign that saw Munich win both the Bundesliga title and the Champions League, it seems a Bayern player is perfectly poised to end Lionel Messi's active streak of awards. Ribery was, after all, Bayern's most valuable player last season. The best player on the best team—what's not to like?
Let's take a look at Ribery's individual credentials. This is, after all, an individual award. Across all club competitions, the Frenchman assisted 18 goals and put away 11 of his own. Pretty good.
Across Europe's top five leagues, Ribery's 14 league assists were second only to Andres Iniesta's 15. Not too shabby.
Yes, Ribery is undoubtedly an elite player, but it's time to face facts: he won't ever touch the Ballon d'Or as long and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo continue to play.
Ribery has been fantastic throughout the 2013 calendar year. He's a really good player and can probably make his case as the third best in the world, at least given this past season.
But Messi and Ronaldo are on an unfathomable level. When you out-assist Iniesta, you have a lot to be proud of. Ribery should be happy. He also out-assisted Messi by 2. Pretty good, but Messi also scored 36 more goals just in the league.
But hey, Ronaldo only scored 24 more goals and was a whopping four assists shy of Ribery.
Barcelona and Real Madrid didn't win the highest European club trophy, though, you interject. True, but the Ballon d'Or isn't about which team performs best. Ribery didn't drag Bayern Munich to European glory; he was a cog in a well-oiled machine. He was an important cog, mind you, but looking at Bayern's roster, one can't help but feel like they would have gotten by just fine without him.
Will Franck Ribery win the 2013 Ballon d'Or?
You're still not convinced, though. Ribery is a fabulous player. It's time to end the Spanish dominance on the Ballon d'Or.
The Spanish dominance. The last time a player from a Spanish club wasn't one of the three finalists for the World Player of the Year was 1995. The last time a German club was represented in the finalists was 2002. The last time a player not named Cristiano Ronaldo was nominated while playing for an English club was 2005. Italy saw Kaka win in 2007.
FIFA adores Spanish football. It's the world standard. On top of winning the World Cup sandwiched in between two Euro Cups, Spain produces some of the best players in the world and it's finesse, passing style of play is revered by many as being the "right way" to play.
Since FIFA changed the World Player of the Year into the Ballon d'Or in 2010, the world has not seen a top three list with a player not from Real Madrid or Barcelona. What makes you think Ribery can buck that trend?