Six players who really should’ve been on the Ballon d’Or shortlist

So the Ballon d’Or list was announced with a fair few notable names missing. Here we look at six players who can count themselves a little unlucky to have missed out.

Claudio Bravo

People may be surprised to see him on this list, especially because I’ve been scathing about his performances since he signed for Manchester City in the summer. But the Chilean international certainly does deserve some recognition for his achievements in recent years. Having captained his national team to consecutive Copa América titles, and winning back-to-back La Liga titles with Barcelona, there can be no doubting his pedigree. Whether he will enjoy the same success in the Premier League is a different issue altogether.

José Fonte

This is a left field choice and one that will no doubt cause a bit of bewilderment. Nevertheless, the Southampton centre half has been in imperious form over the last twelve months. It is easy to forget that he was playing League One football just five years ago. Having captained Southampton to their best ever Premier League finish and winning Euro 2016 with Portugal, he more than merits some acknowledgement for his achievements. There are only three other defenders on the original list of 30, including his international centre back partner, Pepe. Fonte had to bide his time initially, having been overlooked in favour of veteran defender Ricardo Carvalho. However, after a 3-3 draw with Hungary, the result that sealed Portugal’s passage through to the knockout stages, he came into the team and formed a formidable partnership with Pepe. When playing alongside each other Portugal conceded only one goal in their remaining four matches.


Whilst there will always be question marks regarding his defensive ability, there can be no doubt that the Brazilian is the best attacking left back in the world. Quick, strong, and technically gifted, the former Fluminese man really does have it all. He is so important to the way that Real Madrid play, offering them that extra width when the wingers choose to come inside. It can be difficult to get the acclaim you deserve when Bale, Benzema, and particularly Ronaldo are your team mates, yet Marcelo quietly and efficiently goes about his business. Despite only being 28, it feels like the Rio de Janeiro native has been around for years. Now in his eleventh season at Real, he will no doubt be looking to help retain the Champions League this season.

N’Golo Kanté

It’s absolutely farcical that this guy isn’t on the list. Quite frankly he was the standout midfielder in Europe last season as Leicester claimed the unlikeliest of Premier League titles. His omission really does go some way to devaluing the whole award. Last season he demonstrated his exceptional energy levels and reading of the game whilst forming a formidable midfield partnership with Danny Drinkwater. His tactical discipline and unselfish work rate enabled flare players like Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy to excel further up the field. Kanté carried his form into Euro 2016, and has started this season with Chelsea in equally excellent form.

Blaise Matuidi

His absence from the list is also baffling. This is a guy who has won eight trophies with PSG in the previous two seasons. Like Kanté, he featured extensively for Les Bleus as they finished runners up to Portugal at Euro 2016. However, many still choose to devalue the achievements of Matuidi and his PSG side, decrying the alleged weakness of Ligue 1. This perception somewhat overlooks the fact that Matuidi himself has been in excellent form for an awfully long time now. Having joined PSG in 2011 shortly after the club had been purchased by Qatari investors, Matuidi remains the only player from that first wave of signings to still be at the club. He, like PSG, has grown, developed, and improved and consequently now really should be considered amongst the world elite.

Harry Kane

He may have endured a miserable Euro 2016, but there can be no devaluing his achievements in the Premier League last season. Kane was simply sensational, scoring 25 league goals as Tottenham recorded their highest league finish in over 25 years. His finishing and link up play is up there with the best in the world; in a Spurs shirt he really does seem to have the Midas touch. Whilst his performances for England have often been below par, there can be no doubting that he has all the credentials to be one of the all time great English centre forwards. Having scored more league goals than Karim Benzema, Paulo Dybala, and Sergio Agüero (all nominated for the award) last season, his omission from the list was certainly surprising. If he continues the form that he has shown during the previous two seasons then he will almost certainly begin to receive the acclaim he so rightly deserves.

Five-a-side TOTW: August 30th 2016

Picking an eleven is hard; picking just five is even harder.

Sam picks this week’s Premier League Five-a-side TOTW

Goalkeeper – Jordan Pickford

He might have made a clanger for Southampton’s equalising goal, yet the young Sunderland goalkeeper was in inspired form prior to his mistake. He was Southampton’s nemesis, keeping them out on a number of occasions. With Vito Mannone side-lined for a lengthy period of time, Sunderland fans could have been forgiven for having a few concerns surrounding their young keeper. Those concerns would have been allayed following this fine goalkeeping display.

The Ball Winner – Eric Bailly

He looks a find. It is hard to believe that the game against Hull was only his third in the Premier League. The young Ivorian looks a seasoned professional already. Mourinho has been known to trust young centre halves, and Bailly is doing everything to repay the faith shown in him.

Playmaker – Danny Drinkwater

Many thought that the departure of his fellow central midfielder, N’Golo Kanté, would highlight his weaknesses. Yet the Leicester man has continued from where he left off last season. An assist this weekend, with a beautifully weighted ball over the top for Jamie Vardy to chase down and hammer home. How many times did we see that combination last season? Drinkwater has started this season in fine form and has been deservedly recalled to the England set up; he more than merits a place in the team of the week.

The Finisher – Alexis Sanchez

The Chilean attacker was in fine form for Arsenal during their 3-1 victory versus Watford at the weekend. A goal and an assist proved that he was back to his best. Despite being more comfortable on the wing, the ex-Barcelona man has found himself being deployed as a lone frontman for the first three games of the season. He is growing into the role, and looked dangerous every time he received the ball at Vicarage Road.

Free Role – Raheem Sterling

Everyone thought that Guardiola’s arrival would spell the end for the Jamaica-born England international. Yet Sterling has found a new lease of life. An assist last weekend versus Stoke was followed up with two splendid goals in City’s comfortable 3-1 win over West Ham. Widely criticised last season, and further maligned for his dismal displays at the European Championships in the summer, Sterling has recovered, and is currently in the form of his life.