Cristiano Ronaldo Is in Driver's Seat for 2013 Ballon d'Or

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2013

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JANUARY 07:  (L-R) Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid, Andres Iniesta of Barcelona and Lionel Messi of Barcelona attend the Press Conference with nominees for World Player of the Year and World Coach of the Year for Men's Football on January 7, 2013 at Congress House in Zurich, Switzerland.  (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Getty Images)
Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

If Cristiano Ronaldo is denied the Ballon d'Or in favor of Lionel Messi once again, it will be time to reevaluate the process that determines the winner of the coveted award.

First and foremost, Ronaldo deserves the award. I'll have more on that below, but also because it would seem that the results are being leaked before they are made public.

As the Mirror's John Cross reported, Agencia News, which nailed the exact top five of last year's award, reported that Lionel Messi has won the award.

As a sign of how seriously this report is being taken, Cross passed along that the odds on Messi to win the award saw a huge drop after the report and that William Hill bookies "admitted they had 'never seen anything like it.'"

I can see an argument being made for Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery winning this award over Ronaldo, but not Messi once again. The Barcelona star and four-time defending Ballon d'Or winner has been brilliant once again this year, but it has been far from his most productive season, and he's spent much of the past year missing time with injury.

Let's just start with the individual numbers.

Counting all competitions but international friendlies for 2013, Ronaldo's goal scoring is greater than the combined total of Ribery and Messi. The Real Madrid star has netted 67 goals. Messi's got 45 and Ribery 21.

There has long been an argument that Ronaldo doesn't get his goals in the biggest moments. It won't help his case that his Real Madrid squad failed to defend their La Liga title. Instead, Messi's Barcelona took the top spot.

What will help his case, however, is his performances for Portugal in their qualifying run for the World Cup. In nine such appearances, Ronaldo scored 10 goals for Portugal. That includes four goals in the two-leg playoff to get Portugal into the World Cup.

In the decisive second game of that playoff with Sweden, Ronaldo netted a hat trick.

Meanwhile, Ribery also had to win a playoff to help France advance to Brazil, but he didn't shine nearly as brightly as Ronaldo. Argentina didn't have as difficult a time advancing to Brazil. As a result, Messi was not given a similar stage to shine.

Ronaldo's year didn't produce the same kind of hardware as the years of Messi and Ribery, but that certainly isn't due to Ronaldo's performance.

He furthered his legend this past year, and it is time he should be recognized for that with the 2013 Ballon d'Or.