France Football have given their reasons for not including defending champion Lionel Messi on this year’s Ballon d’Or shortlist, which was revealed on Friday.
Messi and team-mate Neymar were the big names to miss out on the 30-man list of nominees with the Argentine’s omission easily the biggest talking point from the ceremony.
Messi scored just 11 goals in what was an extremely underwhelming debut campaign in Paris, his worst return since he last missed out on the Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2005.
Many fans were curious about Messi’s omission and France Football, who’ve organised the award since 1956, were keen to clarify the decision via a Q&A on L’Equipe’s website. Emmanuel Bojan, a journalist for the magazine, was responsible for answering the queries.
‘Inevitably, Lionel Messi, with his 15 appearances in a row since 2006, his seven Ballon d’Or victories, his title holder status, weighs very heavily when it comes to the final choice,’ Bojan explained when asked about the seven-time winner’s snub.
‘The Argentinian was part of the discussions to integrate the 30, but the new criteria for the Ballon d’Or were unfavorable to him: disappearance of the criterion of a player’s entire career, and new periodicity, modeled on a season of football and no longer over a calendar year, which does not make it possible to integrate the Copa America of July 11, 2021.
‘And then, it must be admitted that his first season in Paris was very disappointing both in terms of the visual impression and the statistics.’
But Ronaldo’s inclusion was not welcomed by everyone. ‘The statistics say the opposite,’ said Bojan when probed on the decision.
‘Ronaldo became the top scorer in national football this season [117 goals]. He was extremely decisive in the Champions League group stage with four off-the-cuff goals that gave Man Utd seven points.
‘In the Premier League, he has 18 goals including two hat-tricks. In total, 32 goals in 49 matches is not as many as in his best seasons but enough to be among the 30 best players in the world.’