Franck Ribery will never be as close to becoming the undisputed best player in the world as he is right now. Yet two world-class players stand in his way.
After a season of record-breaking triumph that saw the Frenchman lift trophy after trophy, Ribery now finds himself back on top of the Bundesliga, coasting in the Champions League and under the guidance of the most sought-after coach in world football.
"Comfortable" is perhaps how he'd best describe things at the moment.
Yet there is one trophy that may well elude the all-conquering winger, a personal award that splits opinion and reason wherever it goes. This is of course, the Ballon d'Or and one of the last trophies for Franck Ribery to lay claim to.
Now there is, of course, a very clear argument to be had for those who would demand that such an award goes to the two best players in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
Yet when we boil this debate down to its bare bones, it unfortunately comes down to a basic scoring record. Ronaldo and Messi have scored more goals, so they should be considered the best players in the world.
The problem with this debate isn't the notion of such an argument—it makes perfect sense—yet football fans, and those who run the game and will ultimately vote for the winner of this award, aren't scratching below the surface of some very flimsy logic.
Yes, Ronaldo and Messi have scored an incomparable amount of goals compared to the Bayern wingman over the course of the past year, yet such a feat must surely come under scrutiny when we consider where those goals came from.
The Spanish top division is a weak league. There, I said it. And before you all rush down to the comments section to curse my very name, it's worth just thinking about the basis of this statement for a minute.
It's no coincidence that Spain's other two big sides, Valencia and Atletico Madrid, have always had a free-scoring striker handy at a moment's notice.
It's no coincidence that Roberto Soldado has struggled to keep up his goal ratio since moving to England and it's no coincidence that the two best players in the world simply score for fun, week in and week out.
The proof is anywhere you look: Spain is not a hard place to rack up a nice goal tally.
In fact, if we were somehow to compare goals from one league to another—like some form of UEFA goals exchange rate—we'd probably find that one goal from the English Premier League or German Bundesliga would be worth quite a few in Spain.
This is not, of course, to say that Ronaldo and Messi are any less than the two best players in the world at the moment. Just a plea to consider that their domestic goal-scoring records should perhaps be taken with the slightest pinch of salt.
For when we get down to the hard, gritty game of winning matches and claiming tournaments, these three players become a lot harder to separate.
Last season it was Bayern Munich that beat Juventus, Barcelona and ultimately Dortmund to become the best club side in the world.
At the heart of that war machine Franck Ribery was pulling the levers and turning the cogs, and ultimately finished his season with more medals than any other player nominated for this very award.
As not only a welcome change from the dynamic duo who continuously take advantage of a vulnerable league, Franck Ribery would make a Ballon d'Or winner who not only took his team to simple perfection but did so with no equal.
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