Usually, the end of the World Cup gives one a good indication of who should be celebrating in December when the football awards are given out.
Four years ago it was Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro who emerged as the winner of France Football’s Ballon D’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
But after last week’s announcement of the merger between the FIFA and France Football awards, there does not appear to be a clear cut favorite to the new FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Uruguay’s Diego Forlan won the Golden Ball as the most valuable player of the World Cup. But Forlan’s team finished in fourth place, making it difficult to give him the award.
Therefore, the first FIFA Ballon D’Or should go to the winner of the reigning France Football Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards: Lionel Messi of Argentina.
Some will argue that Messi did not score a single goal in South Africa, and that is true. But scoring is not the most important part of the game, and Messi played a part of many of the goals that Argentina did score in the World Cup.
Messi also can’t help that he played for a team that was disorganized; he is not the coach. Diego Maradona may have been the most talented player to ever play the game, but his coaching abilities would be considered fair at best.
And while his play for his country might have left something to be desired, Messi’s performance in getting Barcelona to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League was outstanding. A four-goal showing against a top-flight-side like Arsenal should be enough in the minds of most of the voters to pick the left-footed striker once again.
Messi finished the 2009-10 club season even better than he did the previous year. Covering all competitions, he played 53 times for Barcelona, scoring 47 goals and dishing out 14 assists. He had 38 goals and 18 assists the year before in 51 matches.
Unless one of his Barcelona teammates like David Villa, Xavi, or Andres Iniesta starts the 2010-11 club season on a tear, Messi should be the man to get the honor.
The only other non-Barcelona players that should even be considered would be Dutch attacking midfielders Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, who both reached the UEFA Champions League final with Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.
Sneijder would have been the odds-on-favorite for the award had the Netherlands won the World Cup. But he was nowhere to be seen in the final, whereas Robben was clearly one of the best players on the field.
Voters will still have a few months to cast their ballots. And while my vote does not count, I would cast it for Messi—unless something stunning happened.