Of course, you would hardly agree that there are a few players who should have won the Ballon d’Or instead of Messi & Ronaldo. These players should be on the list of players who have won the Ballon d’Or.
Though, we all agree that Messi and Ronaldo are arguably the most popular names in sports. Specifically in Football, they both have dominated the headlines as “the best” for more than a decade.
In 2008, both men kick-started the two-way dominance in scooping up FIFA Ballon D’or Awards. That year Ronaldo picked up the first of his five till date (also in 2013, 2014, 2016 & 2017).
Messi on the other hand, won the award six times. Four wins between 2009-2012 and two more in 2015 and 2019.
However, in 2018, the dominance reduced briefly when Luka Modric of Croatia scooped the award. This is because he had an impressive season with Real Madrid and the Croatia National Team.
Since their dominance began, Messi and Ronaldo have relegated most other top 3 competitors a best possible 3rd place finish.
So, it is safe to say that those other players who finished 3rd on most occasions should be the actual Balon D’or winners if Messi and Ronaldo were not around.
But, what about those players snubbed entirely from the top 3 shortlists, despite having a great year? Here is a list of players who should have won the Ballon d’Or instead of Messi & Ronaldo – players who were completely snubbed from top 3.
1. Diego Forlan (2010)
Forlan’s Claim in 2010:
- FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner
- FIFA World Cup joint top scorer
- Europa League winner
- UEFA Super Cup Winner
The retired Uruguayan marksman had a very exciting year in 2010. He played a significant role in the successful runs made by Atletico Madrid and the Uruguayan National Team.
Forlan guided Uruguay to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 40-years.
The former Manchester United striker scored the goal of the tournament with his volley against Germany in the best loser match.
Furthermore, it is important to also remember that Forlan won the Best Player of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In the same year in 2010, Forlan turned up for his Club. He had a man-of-the-match performance with 2 goals in the Europa League final.
Forlan deservedly won the trophy after Atletico Madrid defeated Fulham 2-1.
The Forlan Shocker
Despite all of these awesome achievements, Forlan shockingly missed out on the FIFA Ballon D’or top 3 shortlists in the same year. He lost out to Messi and eventual World Cup winners Iniesta and Xavi – who both are amongst the best midfielders of all time.
The shortlist would send shock waves around the football world. How did it happen?
The same year Forlan Blossomed, Lionel Messi had a relatively underwhelming campaign. Messi won just the La Liga title and the European Golden Boot. He did not even win the Champions League – which of course is usually a significant factor.
Furthermore, Argentina performed poorly at the World Cup. They were knocked out in the Quarter Finals after a heavy 4-0 defeat to Germany.
No doubt, it was a bit of tough luck for Diego Forlan as he could only finish 5th on the Ballon D’or list in 2010 instead of the top 3. This goes against a trend for past winners of the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball.
Ronaldo (1998), Oliver Kahn (2002), Zinedine Zidane (2006), Lionel Messi (2014), and Luka Modric (2018) are some recent winners of the award. They all made the top 3 in Ballon D’or nominations in the same year.
Undoubtedly, Forlan’s is one of the Players who should have won the Ballon d’Or in 2010. But as we say in football, the rest is history!
2. Wesley Sneijder (2010)
Sneijder’s Claim in 2010
- Serie A winner
- Coppa Italia winner
- UEFA Champions League winner
- FIFA Club World Cup winner
- Supercoppa Italiana winner
- UEFA Champions League top assist provider
- FIFA World Cup Silver Ball
- FIFA World Cup Bronze Boot
- UEFA Club Midfielder of the Year
- FIFA World Cup Final Runner-up
Just like Forlan, Sneijder had a good case in 2010.
The Dutch international was undoubtedly one of the top performers in the year 2010. He won almost everything in sight for club and country.
Sneijder scored the most goals (alongside Diego Forlan, David Villa, and Thomas Muller) at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Dutchman also played a key role in Inter Milan’s treble-winning exploits that year.
Sneijder even had more successes in the year 2010. He was in the 2010 teams of the year for UEFA, FIFA FIFPro, and the FIFA World Cup Dream Team.
In addition, Sneijder won four Man of the Match performances at the FIFA World cup in 2010.
Ideally, the player with the best overall performances over the calendar year in view gets the Ballon D’or award. So, for the year 2010, Wesley Sneijder arguably deserved the award.
The Sneijder Shocker
Unfortunately, Sneijder did not even make the top 3 Shortlist in 2010.
Sneijder‘s exclusion from the Ballon D’or top 3 shortlists that year sparked outrage from football enthusiasts around the globe. Many argued that he had inevitably earned a spot.
He had to settle for 4th place finish on the Ballon D’or shortlist in that year. This is a misdeed on his achievements in the period. Moreso, it is quite an underwhelming appreciation of his work for club and country.
Sneijder is no doubt one of the players who should have won the Ballon D’or instead of Messi and Ronaldo.
However, a valid debate could be Sneijder and Forlan as to who should have won it in 2010. It is up to you to decide if they should be on the list of players who have won the Ballon d’Or.
3. Sadio Mane (2019)
Some Feats in 2019:
- African Footballer of the Year winner
- UEFA Champions League winner
- UEFA Super Cup winner
- FIFA Club World Cup winner
- Premier League Golden Boot winner
- African Cup of Nations runner up
The Senegalese forward enjoyed a remarkable year in 2019 as he scored and created important goals for club and country.
Mane helped Liverpool win their first UEFA Champions League trophy since 2005 after defeating Tottenham Hotspurs in the final. As a result, Mane won 2nd place for the Champions League Forward of the Season award.
The Senegalese superstar played a pivotal role for this country 🇸🇳 as they finished runners up in the 2019 CAF African Cup of Nations. They lost 1-0 to Algeria in the final.
The Mane Schocker
But despite his hot form and the crowning as African Footballer of the Year, Mane could only finish 4th on the Ballon D’or shortlist. The outcome came as a surprise to many including eventual Ballon D’or 2019 winner Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi, Virgil Van Dijk, and Cristiano Ronaldo finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively at the awards ceremony.
So, it is safe to say that Mane has a strong case when talking about players who should have won the Ballon D’or apart from Messi & Ronaldo.
Of course, not only Sneijder, Mane, and Diego Forlan are unlucky not to win the Ballon D’or. Perhaps Radamel Falcao (2012) or Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2013) comes to your mind too.
Go ahead, let us know the players you think should have displaced Messi and/or Ronaldo in the Ballon D’or top 3 shortlists since 2008.