Jan 122015

It’s Ballon d’Or time again – the night when football’s A-list don their tuxedos and cross their fingers.

Earlier today Roberto Martinez gave his thoughts on the often controversial award, revealing his dislike for individual honours.

Facing the media ahead of his side’s FA Cup 3rd round replay tomorrow night against West Ham United, the Everton FC boss was asked who he would back for the award.

Roberto Martinez  

“I don’t really enjoy individual awards in football,” he said. “That’s’ the truth. Everyone defends their own person. I enjoy the collective awards.”

Martinez, who spent part of last summer working as a TV pundit during the World Cup, did however hint at who he would prefer to see win the award.

Despite his disapproval of individual glorification he added: “As last year was World Cup year it would be difficult to see a Ballon d’Or winner who hasn’t won World Cup. But we’ll see tonight.”

Below we make the case for each FIFA Ballon d’Or contender, so you can decide on who you think deserves the prestigious prize ahead of the ceremony in Zurich.

Manuel Neuer

The traditional two-way race between Ronaldo and Messi has been broken by the introduction of the Bayern Munich goalkeeper. He has been praised as the best in his role after managing to make himself a contender to be crowned the best player in the world following a solid performance in the 2014 World Cup which saw his German side triumph in the competition for a fourth time.

No goalkeeper has ever won the world footballer of the year, but it’snot just Martinez who believes a World Cup winner should be awarded the 2014 Ballon d’Or, with UEFA president Michel Platini insisting likewise.

He maybe longer odds because of history, but the Bayern hero is true competitor with an incredible presence in the box. Sometimes he almost plays as a fifth defender, gaining a reputation as a “sweeper-keeper” by being quick to come out of his 18-yard box

Lionel Messi

The Barcelona play-maker has all sorts of records to his name and the very last time he won the award in 2012 for a record and consecutive fourth time the Argentinian magician was awarded for his individual goal scoring tally. Messi managed to score a record 91 goals in a calender year surpassing Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old historic milestone of 85 goals in a year by bagging 79 goals for club and 12 for country.

But his biggest rival (and vice versa) to being recognised as the best in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, has managed to put his chances of a fifth Ballon d’Or to a halt recently. His Barcelona side has also ended the past season trophy-less, putting him less in the spot light but has still managed to keep a high goal-scoring tally.

He become all-time top scorer in La Liga and Champions League history but the closing date will not have helped Messi both records came after the voting ceased in November. He also became Barcelona’s all time top goalscorer earlier in 2014 which has kept him amongst contenders for the award once again.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The current Ballon d’Or holder will not be short of backers as the case for the success of the Portuguese international throughout 2014 are as apparent as ever through trophies, goals and personal achievements.

Ronaldo’s contenders for a 3rd Ballon d’Or accolade have had a more successful World Cup with both of his rivals making it to the final of the event in 2014. Despite this, Ronaldo is bookies favourite at 1/8 to be voted player of the year.

Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo  

Having proved to be more than a crucial figure in helping Real Madrid transfer the dream of Le Decima into a reality, Ronaldo set a new record in the Champions League, scoring 17 times in the competition, including the final. He outscored everyone in La Liga framing 31 goals from 30 games and earlier this year he won Best Forward, Best Player in La Liga and Best Goal for 2013-14 season.

He clawed back the award from Messi after coming runner-up to him more than once before he reclaiming it last year.

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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