Fifa have today started releasing the names of this year’s shortlist for the illustrious Ballon d’Or prize, with 30 of the world’s best players vying for the crown.
Although it is good recognition for certain players to feature on the list, in reality the whole process is largely defunct as only a handful of the game’s top superstars are in the running to actually be crowned.
Lionel Messi in 2016:
Unstoppable ???????? pic.twitter.com/ubAhxiqyhK
— 8 Fact Football (@8Fact_Footballl) October 23, 2016
Narrowing the pool even more, the current holder and undoubted best player on the planet Lionel Messi casts a sizeable shadow that the rest of the world game lives inside.
The Argentine is the only player in the game’s history to win the Ballon d’Or on five occasions and there is little doubting that he deserves to add an unprecedented sixth crown to his personal inventory.
Messi was critical in Barcelona’s success last season and has largely continued where he has left off this season.
Despite an injury keeping the South American out of action for a couple of weeks, the 29-year-old has returned to club duties in stunning fashion.
Back-to-back Champions League hat-tricks against Celtic and Manchester City highlighted Messi’s ability to perform on the biggest stage while the mercurial attacker led the Catalan club to domestic victory over Valencia on Saturday.
Although there are a sizeable group of ardent Cristiano Ronaldo fans that will claim the Portuguese star should be crowned the 2016 Ballon d’Or winner after his exploits at Euro 2016, this is not enough for the Real Madrid man to usurp his perennial personal rival.
The likes of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Gareth Bale are all in the running also but in reality it is hard to argue with the fact that Messi is the world’s greatest player this year, of a generation and probably of all time.