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Ballon Poor, for the Most Useless Players of 2013

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2014

Ballon Poor, for the Most Useless Players of 2013

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Cristiano Ronaldo picked up arguably the most prestigious individual award in football recently when he claimed the Ballon d'Or 2013 ahead of rivals Leo Messi and Franck Ribery after a staggering calendar year's worth of performances.

    At the other end of the scale, several top names let the year slip them by all too easily, failing to shine for a wide variety of reasons.

    Here is the Ballon Poor for those who have work to do to reestablish themselves during 2014.

     

    Thanks to B/R writers Gianni Verscheuren, Chris Atkins and Callum Fox for their input.

The Managerial Candidate

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Only one winner here.

    Massimo Allegri managed to drag the mighty AC Milan down several levels, eventually departing at the start of this calendar year with the team bouncing around 11th to 13th position and spiralling badly in Serie A.

    There will be plenty of eyes on Allegri's next post to see if he can recover his battered reputation.

Iker Casillas

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    Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

    Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas might still be regarded as amongst the world's finest, but it's been a long time since he was handed the regular opportunity to prove it.

    Casillas played just three La Liga games in 2013 and though he still figures in cup games and for his international side, there must be a growing fear that he will lose his place for the World Cup if the situation persists.

    Now aged 32, this was without doubt the worst year of his career.

Alexandre Pato

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    Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato moved back to his native country after failing to make a lasting impact with AC Milan, but his fortunes have not overly improved with Corinthians.

    He managed 10 goals in the Brasileirao Serie A but was far from the force he was expected to be and, following more injuries earlier in the year, has fallen out of favour at international level.

    Pato has been linked with moves back to Europe—but also to Asia.

Glen Johnson

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    Though still a regular at club and country level, 2013 saw the complete meltdown of Glen Johnson's form and performance levels.

    Not since very early in the year has he performed consistently enough to provide the attacking threat associated with him.

    Whether because of impending contract issues, lack of competition or natural progression, Johnson is arguably only in the Liverpool side because of a lack of other options. 

Riccardo Montolivo

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    Given the poor performances by Milan under the aforementioned Allegri, it should be no surprise to see a number of inclusions from the playing staff.

    Riccardo Montolivo has been a major disappointment, failing to dictate games with anything like the regularity and consistency expected of him.

    The midfielder has been unable to impose himself on matches against top-class opposition, adding to Milan's woes in those clashes.

Fernando Llorente

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Fernando Llorente might be on the rebound now and looking like his old self, but it took him the best part of 11 months to get to that stage, essentially wrecking his 2013.

    Having decided to leave Athletic Bilbao, he was ostracised from the team and, after joining Juventus, naturally took a while to find his feet.

    Between the start of the year and the end of October, he managed just two 90-minute league performances, one for each team—and both games were lost.

    Thankfully for the striker, he has every reason to look forward to 2014 with a lot more hope already.

Rio Ferdinand

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    A poor half-season for Manchester United has masked somewhat the deficiencies of the individuals within, with centre-back Rio Ferdinand one of those way below his level.

    Ferdinand's increasing age and decreasing agility make him reliant on reading the game and great decision making, but both appear to have been lacking.

    United need rebuilding and centre-back, Ferdinand's position, is one of those requiring replacements.

Thomas Vermaelen

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    Far from being one of the Premier League's best defenders and the regular Arsenal skipper as he was only a year or so previously, Thomas Vermaelen's star has fallen drastically.

    He barely featured for large stretches of 2013, playing around a dozen league games all told after losing his form entirely, getting injured, then failing to regain his place as a result of his poor performances.

    With Arsenal now having a settled defence, he doesn't look any closer to regaining his place in 2014.

Antonio Nocerino

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    Part of Italy's national team not all that long ago, Antonio Nocerino's club career is now firmly on standby.

    Having peaked a couple of seasons ago when he played a big goalscoring role for Milan from midfield, Nocerino only completed four 90-minute league games between January and May—and hasn't even managed that many this season so far.

    Nocerino has failed utterly to make an impact on Milan's play and, at both ends of the field, seems to have lost his way.

Leandro Damiao

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    Once the rising star of Brazilian football destined for a big move to Europe, Leandro Damiao is now 24 years old and still in Brazil, though will hope for better fortunes this year after a move to Santos.

    He managed to score a paltry four goals in the Serie A during 2013, losing his confidence, first touch and knack of hitting the net along the way.

    Santos will be hoping he rediscovers his best form, having shelled out around £11.5 million for him.

Stephane El Shaarawy

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    The final name on our stellar-but-under-performing list is AC Milan's Stephane El Shaarawy, the young Italian forward.

    A dip in form early in the year saw him fail to continue making an impact in front of goal. He suffered an injury and failed regularly to get back to his best level. His aggression, in possession and out of it, seemed to have taken a hit—and he scored just twice in 2013.

    Another injury has basically seen him sit out most of the 2013-14 season so far, but his form and work-rate had already dipped tremendously by then and he has work to do to restore his reputation and place in the team.

     

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