Friday, October 12, 2007
For Club and Country
This time, there’s no World Cup or European Championship to skew the selection process, so the focus has predictably shifted to the 2007 Champions League. The vast majority of the players on the list competed in the latter stages of that competition.
Kaka seems to have been installed as the overwhelming favourite, and one can see why. He was magisterial for AC Milan during their march to the final in Athens (although it’s a little strange that Kaka’s partner in the Milan three-quarter line, Clarence Seedorf, has failed to make the shortlist. Seedorf’s contributions were vital at times as well).
There are some other curious omissions. For Francesco Totti – basically a converted midfielder – to secure the European “Golden Boot” was quite an achievement, yet he’s absent from the list of thirty. As is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, an outstanding performer for Internazionale, Sevilla’s prolific Fredi Kanoute, and the consistently impressive Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal.
I tend to think that FIFA’s award should reflect performances at both club and national level, and for that reason I’d be inclined to give this year’s gong to Lionel Messi over Kaka. Although Kaka was understandably rested for this year’s Copa America – undisputably the major international football competition of the year, despite its clumsy format and lamentable “guest appearances” – Messi was there, and starred. His performance in the semi-final against Mexico, capped off by a sublime individual goal, was especially memorable.
And he has started the current season in magnificent fettle for Barcelona, largely making up for the mercurial form of Ronaldinho.
Kaka may have been the king of the Champions League, but the most deserving recipient of this year’s award, in my opinion, is Messi.
But I feel sorry for Kaka because if Messi stays fit I can see him consistently being the best player in the world for the next decade, just about. And if it was for the 2006-2007 SEASON (which I think makes more sense - why have an annual award covering two seasons), I'd go for Kaka, put it that way. So I'd be happy for him to win this and get the recognition he deserves.
BTW some of the ommissions and commisions are a joke. Why no Totti and why Thuram & Henry?