And the winner is... inevitable, as Messi lines up for a fourth Ballon d’Or

The Ballon d’Or, the award for the best football player in the world, is announced later today – and it’s become a little predictable.

The three main contenders for the prize come as no surprise to anyone really; Messi, Ronaldo and Iniesta. Messi is hoping to claim the title for a record breaking fourth time in a year when he has broken almost every other record placed in front of him. Ronaldo is probably already resigned to the fact he will have to play second fiddle to the Argentinean yet again. Iniesta’s hopes of pipping these two to the trophy are probably not high.

For most, Messi will win it and deservedly. He scored 72 times from 50 games, 139 of his 205 shots were on target, he made over 3,000 passes and even managed 17 assists when playing for Barcelona last year. Ronaldo actually played one more game than Messi and spent more time on the pitch but only bettered the Argentinean in shots on target (149) and total shots (288).

However Messi’s shot conversion rate (the percentage of his shots which were goals) far outstrips both Ronaldo and Iniesta; respectively their scores were 35.1%, 18.4% and 12.5%.

The stats don’t lie and in all honesty Messi is probably the best player in the world. But that doesn’t mean the award isn’t getting dull and repetitive. Not only would Messi win it for a fourth time in a row, but Ronaldo would make his fourth appearance in the top three in the last five years, while Iniesta has placed fourth in 2009 and second in 2010. Another repeat offender is Xavi, who managed third place in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Despite this though there shouldn’t be any reason to complain (barring the fact us Brits don’t really get to see this talent week in, week out). OK, maybe it is dull to hear the same players being continually mentioned in connection with football’s biggest individual honour, but the idea of the award is to recognise the talent these guys have and, in the case of multiple award winners, that they can replicate it year after year.

However, we can look forward to two things: hopefully, another year of Messi being fantastic, pushed along by Ronaldo trying to beat him to next year’s title; and, sometime in the future, the player with the ability, talent and desire to succeed Messi as the greatest player in the world – now that will be some footballer.

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