Oct 28, 2010

FIFA Ballon d'Or: Who is the Best Player of 2010

By Gautam Sharma

This is the first year of the FIFA Ballon d'Or, brought about by the happy marriage of the FIFA World Player of the Year, and the Ballon d'Or of France Football. France Football has come out with the 23 player shortlist for the 2010 award. While the snub of Diego Milito from the shortlist is causing all the controversy, lets take a look at some of the most deserving candidates to win the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or...

The Criteria...

First let me explain my criteria. Each player is rated on his performances in 3 levels of competitions – Domestic Leagues/Cups, European competition, and the World Cup. Each player is given a rating from 1 to 10 (higher being better) for each level. This rating is a multiple of not only the player’s individual performance in that competition, but also the performance of his team. The overall rating is a weighted average of these 3 ratings, with the World Cup having 3 times the weightage of Domestic competitions, and Europe twice. In mathematical terms, if you are so inclined:

Overall Rating = (3 * World Cup Rating + 2 * Europe Rating + Domestic Rating) / 6

Glad we got that out of the way. This methodology unfortunately ensures that only players who have done reasonably well in the World Cup will stand any chance of coming top. However, that is probably not far from the reality. In World Cup years, usually the best player of the World Cup wins this award, sometimes even irrespective of his domestic performances (Cannavaro in 2006, Ronaldo in 2002, etc). Fair or not, thats the way it is, and I have tried to reflect that in my criteria by allocating 50% of the weightage to World Cup performance.

The Shortlist...

I evaluated quite a few candidates, and some others came close to my shortlist like Mueller, Iniesta, Cassillas, Klose, Cesar, Messi, etc. But to focus the discussion here, let me present my Top 5 shortlist, as per the above criteria, and their detailed ratings: (in no particular order)

Arjen Robben:
- Domestic: Scored 16 goals (in 24 games) leading Bayern to a domestic double. Bundesliga footballer of the year... Rating 10/10
- Europe: Led Bayern to the final of the Champions league, scoring 4 times in 10 games.... Rating 8/10
- World Cup: Helped Holland reach the final, scoring 2 times.... Rating 8/10

Xavi Hernandez:
- Domestic: Led Barca to historic La Liga win with 99 points. Top assists. 3 goals. Awarded 3rd best player in La Liga..... Rating 9/10
- Europe: Key midfielder for Barcelona reaching the semifinal..... Rating 8/10
- World Cup: Led Spain to their first World Cup win, most passes completed for any player in the tournament.... Rating 9/10

David Villa:
- Domestic: Helped Valencia finish 3rd with 21 goals..... Rating 8/10
- Europe: Helped Valencia reach the quarters of the Europa League, scoring 6 times... Rating 7/10
- World Cup: Led Spain to their first World Cup win, scoring 5 times (and 1 assist) in 7 games (co-topscorer/Silver Boot). Also won the Bronze Ball.... Rating 9/10

Diego Forlan:
- Domestic: Forlan scored 18 goals (and 6 assists) from 30 starts in the La Liga for mid table Atletico.... Rating 7/10
- Europe: Led Atletico to victory in the Europa League, scoring 6 times..... Rating 9/10
- World Cup: Led Uruguay to the semis, scoring 5 times (and 1 assist) in 7 games (co-topscorer). Won the Golden Ball as best player of the world cup..... Rating 10/10

Wesley Sneijder:
- Domestic: Key playmaker for Inter winning the domestic double, scoring 4 goals in 24 Serie A games..... Rating 9/10
- Europe: Argueably the best player in the Champions League winning side, scoring 3 goals. UEFA midfielder of the year.... Rating 10/10
- World Cup: Key contributor for Holland reaching the final, scoring 5 times (and 1 assist) in 7 games (co-topscorer/Bronze boot). Also won the Silver Ball as the 2nd best player of the world cup... Rating 9/10

Overall Scores...

Sneijder just about edges Forlan as the best player of 2010, as per my criteria. But what is clear to me, after going through this structured exercise, is that the winner has to be one of these two. They both have had an excellent 2010, and excelled in the biggest competitions in the world more than anyone else. It would be unfortunate if the award ends up with someone else, more due to “popularity” than performance.

I would love to hear your views on who should win the 2010 FIFA Ballon d’Or - Vote for your FIFA Ballon d'Or 2010 Choice in comments below.... Also, any comments/critique of my criteria or ratings is also welcome.


MIRA said...

FORLAN. Uruguay and ATM were ''inferior'' than barc,ned,spa etc. otherwise, no need to explain.

Julien Momont said...

I disagree with the ratings : Europa League should be less valued than Champion's League. So I'd add one point to Xavi and Robben, for instance, and take one away from Forlan.

Bluenine said...

Julian, I agree re Europa League... thats why Forlan has got only 9 points inspite of being teh best player of Europa League, as well as a champion.

Perhaps you could make a case for 1 point more for Xavi & Robben in Europe, but that wouldn't change the overall result.

Mike said...

So does this mean that only players in European leagues are eligible to be the world's best player??

Gabi said...

I disagree. I think Forlán, Robben and Sneijder all have had a great season, but I would give to Xavi because a)Spain won the WC b)He,unlike the other candidates, has been playing at excellent level for many seasons

Bluenine said...


Xavi is certainly a serious candidate specially for his WC win, but your point about him playing excellent level is previous years is not that valid, as this is about the best player for 2010.

Clearly, its looking like a contest between the Spain/Barca contingent & Sneijder of Holland/Inter. Push comes to shove, I think the spain-barca contingent will end up eating into each other vote banks, so I expect Sneijder to win this one. Milito's absence will actually help his teammate.

Yesterday, Iniesta himself admited that Sneijder is the most deserving candidate for this award.

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel