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Ballon d'Fraud: 3 players who were 'robbed' of football's biggest award

November 30th 2021, 3:52:31 pm

Sneijder, van Dijk, and Ribery are amongst a long line of football players who have been controversially ignored for the prestigious Ballon d'Or award

Lionel Messi won his seventh Ballon d'Or on Monday but many feel Robert Lewandowski was more deserving of the award

Lionel Messi was awarded a seventh Ballon d'Or title on Monday night as the Paris Saint-Germain forward finished ahead of Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea's Jorginho. Many believe the Argentine did not deserve the award, instead touting the Polish striker for the top spot.

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These are not new sentiments as previous editions have also been awash with strong claims of other players being more deserving. Whilst there is always a legitimate claim that another player should have been awarded (it's a competitive award between the best players after all), we have picked out three times other players should have won the award.

Wesley Sneijder - Inter Milan (2009/10)

The Dutchman was in imperious form during the 2009/10 season leading Inter Milan to an unprecedented treble-winning season, the first and only Italian team to achieve this feat.

Before the end of the year, Sneijder added the Supercoppa Italiana and the FIFA Club World Cup to his haul of Italian Serie A, UEFA Champions League and Coppa Italia.

On the international stage, the former Inter man led Netherlands to the final, only losing to Spain courtesy of Andres Iniesta's lone goal. He scored five goals and made one assist en route to the final, to add to the eight goals and fifteen assists he chipped in for Inter during the club season.

But when the 2010 Ballon d'Or award was handed out on 10th January 2011, the Dutchman did not even make the podium. Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez were adjudged the Top 3.

Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool (2018/19)

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Liverpool star defender Virgil van Dijk was as dominant as he was instrumental during Liverpool's title-winning 2018/19 season. The 6ft 4in defender was a luxurious edifice within the Liverpool backline, snuffing out attacks with ease and solidifying a team he joined just six months before.

Van Dijk led Liverpool to their sixth UEFA Champions League title and narrowly missed out on the Premier League to Manchester City with just one point. Beyond the titles, Van Dijk was the closest to a dominant force on the European scene during the 2018/19 season.

At the 2019 Ballon d'Or awards ceremony, the Liverpool defender came second to Lionel Messi, losing to the then Barcelona forward with just seven points - the slimmest points margin in the award's history.

Franck Ribery - Bayern Munich (2012/13)

Former Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery won everything but the Ballon d'Or during the 2012/13 season. The French forward won the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal Cup and the UEFA Champions League under Jupp Heynckes.

He also scooped up the DFL-Supercup, the UEFA Supercup and the FIFA Club World Cup the following season to complete the sextuple. Ribery scored 11 goals and created 23 assists during the 12/13 season.

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However, Ribery was adjudged only third-best in the 2013 Ballon d'Or rankings, losing out to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

After the awards ceremony, he told German paper Bild: "I learned a lot during last year's Ballon d'Or gala. As soon as I got there, I told my wife that I would lose. I saw how Sepp Blatter was hugging Ronaldo and how his entire family was there. I'm not stupid. It was clear that he had to win it. He wouldn't have brought his entire family with him otherwise."

Ribery's would perhaps go down as the most controversial Ballon d'Or award in history.

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Damola Ogungbe

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