Over the last decade, the beautiful game has been dominated by two individuals – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The fact that the last nine ballons d’or have been shared between them is a testament to their dominance. But is Messi and Ronaldo all there is to modern football?
Many young players fail to live up to their potentials because after their first step over, they are dubbed ‘the new Ronaldo’, or after their first solo goal, they earn the tag ‘future Messi’. Once upon a time, Bojan Krkic was tagged “the new Messi” while Memphis Depay was dubbed “the new Ronaldo”. Where are they now? Bojan now plies his trade for Mainz 05, on loan from Stoke City while Depay left Manchester United for Lyon after a series of underwhelming performances. Not many can cope with the weight that comes with the tag ”new Messi”, or ”new Ronaldo”. Little wonder Gerard Deulofeu recently confessed that ”The Lionel Messi comparisons hurt my development. It generated too much expectation concerning me amongst Barcelona supporters. There is only one Messi. I don’t normally read the newspapers, but this comparison really stuck out” he stated per Marca.
Thus, it may not be wrong to assert that that the ballon d’or award has not been totally fair in recent times. In 2010, Lionel Messi won the award ahead of Xavi and Iniesta but Wesley Sneijder, who led Inter Milan to win a treble and Netherlands to the finals of the World Cup, was arguably a better candidate judging from his general performance with both club and country. Surprisingly, he happened not to have a place amongst the top three finalists that year.
In 2013, the voting date for the FIFA ballon d’or was reopened after Ronaldo ensured Portugal qualified for the 2014 world cup by scoring four goals as Sweden lost to Portugal four goals to two. Extending the date prevented Franck Ribery from winning as Ronaldo ran off with the award. These two decisions show that FIFA does not promote the essence of the game. Football goes beyond goal scoring.
It is indeed true that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the greatest players to have graced the beautiful game. However, change is constant. Times change and over the next few years, the ”Messi-Ronaldo” era will come to an end. So it’s good for the world of football to enjoy their talents while we can and try to unlearn the habit of comparing the two great players. Let’s be more objective so we can have a clear view of the future and nurture the new crop of stars being born every day. The future looks bright for the beautiful game.
Edited by Franca Ekele Oriahi(Phrankelle)