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Ballon d’Or 2022 – Can the PSG duo Lionel Messi – Neymar be absent from the list of 30 nominees?

Eight months later, the media circus escorting the endless debates around the Ballon d’Or is back in action. Friday, a first list will clear the ground, pulling the rug out from under the feet of a few ambitious people whose CVs are too meager or whose popularity is too meager. The evidence is French, and few people would dare to dispute the crown already suspended above the head of Karim Benzema. The presence of the top scorer of the last Champions League (15 goals) is not in doubt, while a fog as dense as sibylline surrounds the presence of Lionel Messi and Neymar.

If the two Paris Saint-Germain playing masters have regained a taste for the field since the off-season, the supreme individual award crowns the “best player” of last season. Equipped with these criteria, the jury immediately stumbled upon the limping performance of the two South American stars during the last exercise. Is the sporting criterion sufficient to affirm with the confidence of a politician the absence of the two geniuses from the list?

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Messi, the brilliance of the holder as an entry ticket

Honor to the record holder for the number of victories (seven), the case of Lionel Messi being moreover particular. First of all, let’s trace the thread of the relationship between the “Pulga” and the Ballon d’Or. The story of the Argentinian with the award stamped France Football germinates in 2006. The embarrassed smile and the still frail physique of the teenager have just ruled out months of wanderings and injuries, finishing tied for 20th in the standings for a first. Since then, the presence of the native of Rosario in the list (even on the podium) is systematic, almost indisputable. Until last year, when the Argentine genius left with a seventh golden case, at the end of a campaign condensed into six months (from January to June) of high flight.

Its status as tenant gives it an unstoppable argument. Can we nevertheless object? If the season of the Pulga (35 years old) does not in any way match the contours of its thunderous last six months in Catalonia, the statistics are not infamous either (34 matches, 11 goals, 15 assists). A few images still quiver in the mind: the ride against Manchester City, the title goal against Lens, but nothing significant. In the pit, more than twenty players splashed more European lawns. As we know, sporting logic often stops where the vote for the Ballon d’Or begins, but the management of the reward has been striving to restore a emaciated credibility for a few years, at the cost of more demanding selection criteria for voters. .

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The Neymar choice, between prestige and credibility

The Brazilian is also a regular at the Ballon d’Or. A unique artist with leather, an accomplished soloist when his body leaves him alone – which was not the case last season (only 28 club appearances) – the native of Mogi (30 years old) has undoubtedly had the worst season of his career during the previous financial year. The starting point is in Brazil, the day after a Copa America final lost against Argentina by his friend Messi, but during which the latter did not exist. Unlike “Ney”, incandescent with each touch of the ball, constantly dangerous and only Auriverde to gain meters in the opposing camp.

The Brazilian has still not won anything with his selection, and the fate of his season (and his condition) already seemed mortgaged. The following ? Off the field when he is not carrying a shaky carcass, Neymar was also noted for his questionable attitude on the green meadow: abusive complaints, simulations, bad choices with the ball, etc. So many flaws that inevitably plague the candidacy of the former Barcelonan.

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The big gap with his debut is more dizzying. 11 years ago, a spirited young troublemaker wearing an Iroquois crest forced part of Europe to get up in the night to appreciate the Brazilian’s exhibitions in the local championship, while the rest got drunk on endless compilations listing the arabesques of the new prodigy. Stricken but feline, shy and confident at the same time, the Neymar Jr meteorite crashed in 10th place in the most prestigious of individual prizes, at just 19 years old (winner of the Puskas prize by the way).

Eleven years later, Neymar has still not left the list of 30 named, assisted by the force of habit and the marketing power of the Parisian number 10. If there is a presence in 2022, it will raise a big problem. Already very questionable last year, the name of Neymar in this Friday’s list would inflict quite a snub on the credibility of the Ballon d’Or, less on its prestige. Let’s not forget, at his best, Neymar has few equals on the football planet, but that’s not the point.

Finding the Brazilian in this phalanstery of choice would invalidate all the arrangements made by the organization. A question will also arise at the level of the final positions, because it is not excluded that a Lionel Messi finds himself in the final top 5, which would be an absurdity without name, but not so unthinkable in the light of the last editions . Everything in its time. Without deciding towards militancy, it is time for the Ballon d’Or to serve the sporting aspect the central place which is due to it. On the contrary, 2022 could be the iniquitous vintage too many.

Neymar

Credit: Getty Images

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