With a leak of the Ballon D’or longlist, The Boot Room takes a look at the players competing for a hypothetical 3rd place trophy behind the immense duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
After brushing off a rumours £2oom move to Manchester United this summer, Neymar has started the Liga BBVA campaign in full flow, already notching 4 goals in 6 appearances. The Brazilian also hit 11 along with 4 assists in the league at the latter of last season.
Neymar is tipped as a future Ballon D’or winner, however this year it doesn’t seem likely. The former Santos prodigy now has the task of being the main man for Barcelona as Messi is out for at least another 6 weeks. The Brazilian captain will now have to provide the creative spark along with the goals return to ensure Barcelona’s competitiveness in all competitions until the world-class Argentinian recovers.
Neymar’s case for 3rd place or higher is his Champions League medal, something that all others on this list, apart from Suarez, failed to achieve.
With 10 goals from January to the final day of the Bundesliga season, it may be reasonable to suggest Thomas Muller should replace his teammate on this list. However, with 12 goals in 7 league games this season, 8 in a week and 5 in 9 minutes, Robert Lewandowski is in the form of his life.
The Poland international has maintained a place in a competitive Bayern starting 11 while becoming a world class hit-man. His form has sent shock-waves around the football world and his record breaking feat of 5 goals in 9 minutes against no lesser opposition than Wolfsburg may be something even Ronaldo or Messi can’t achieve.
Maybe slightly generous to the Premier League, Eden Hazard represents English football’s biggest hope of bringing home the 3rd (or better) title.
The Belgian lit up the league last season winning the PFA Player of the Year while scoring 14 goals and creating 9. Such form caused his current manager, Jose Mourinho, to label him as ‘better than Ronaldo’. Whether such claims can be agreed with, there is certainly an impressive ability that Hazard possesses.
This season, it couldn’t be much different. Without a goal in 8 appearances means Hazard continues to slip further and further away from the 3rd place title, possibly behind Sanchez with the Chilean’s current form. Chelsea’s stuttering form has left Hazard struggling as well. A influencing talent when in form, Hazard will be hoping for greater fortune in terms of goals come voting time.[interaction id=”560dac2274a791dd4b2e0923"]
When Luis Suarez made his £75m move to Barcelona in the summer of 2014, pessimist wondered how he fit the system and whether he was worth the risk after his infamous bite on Cheillini. However, the Uruguayan impressed everyone in his debut season, forming an unstoppable partnership with Neymar and Messi which has been named the MSN.
Suarez helped Barca to the title and the Champions League trophy last season with 16 league goals having only been available for 2/3rds of the season due to his ban.
The start to this season has mirrored that of Neymar’s. Played 5 scoring one goal less but he has taken some of the burden left by Lionel Messi’s injury. His goals will be vital to the Catalan’s with Champions League progression looking inevitable, the instinctive poaching ability Suarez has adds a new dimension to the Champions.
The German World Cup winner came so close to winning the Ballon D’or last season finishing with the trophy we’re debating about. The Bayern man has a hefty defensive line ahead of him but his uncommon confidence on the ball is now an evolution of the number 1 role.
With ventures up near the half way line, Neuer has an unconventional way of goalkeeping often acting as an additional centre-back. The 29 year old kept 20 clean sheets last season while he maintains a 50% ratio this season with 4 in 8.
Manuel Neuer is the only goalkeeper pushing the top spots while his ability is now trained into the younger generation. He has influenced Ter Stegen’s development and at 29 is a senior in both his club and country’s team meaning he has a much bigger role than just making saves. He, arguably, is the only one on this list with the mentoring role.
Yet, at 29, he is still young in terms of goalkeepers and could potentially win two more World Cups with Germany depending on their dominance on the world stage. In the short term however, he’ll be looking to improve on 3rd place in the Ballon D’or.
Other notable mentions must go to Paul Pogba,Gareth Bale, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and of course, Harry Kane and Massimo Luongo.
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