Recently, when Lionel Messi was awarded the most coveted Ballon D’Or, a few sections of fans were outraged. According to a few sections of the fans, the Polish striker has robbed the Ballon d’Or trophy for his stupendous performances for both club and country over two seasons. It is not the first time that this call was raised. Here is the best playing XI of players who never won the Ballon d’Or.
It was a three-horse race between Jorginho, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski to win the coveted award. With Jorginho winning the Euro 2020 with his national team, he was a surprise contender. Till the final minute, the fans believed in Lewandowski to win it. However, the voting did not go his way.
In the past, there have been players in every position who could not win the most prestigious award due to one or the other season. These players, if they had played in a single era. They can form a team being the unluckiest to not win the award.
Best playing XI of players who never won the Ballon d’Or
If any goalkeeper of recent times deserves a shoutout, that is none other than the Bundesliga shot-stopper, Manuel Neuer. The player was an integral part of Germany’s World Cup-winning team along with Bayern Munich’s CL win and Bundesliga titles. However, he was denied the trophy in 2014 and he finished third in the Ballon D’Or race.
May it be 92:48 in the UEFA Champions League or any clutch occasion, Sergio Ramos deserves to be in the playing XI consisting of players to never win the Ballon d’Or. Not only has he won numerous titles with Los Blancos, but he also won a major chunk of international titles as well.
Paolo Maldini needs no introduction. Till Gigi Buffon took over, he was the player with the most caps in Serie A (647). He was even applauded by one of the best managers of the English Premier League, Sir Alex Ferguson and was called the best defender. The player went on to play till 41 years after making his debut at 16.
There would be some regrets for Inter Milan throughout the decades after they rejected Francesco Baresi and selected his brother Giuseppe for their youth setup. However, one’s loss is another’s gain as AC Milan tapped him. Baresi went on to play for the Rossoneri for 15 years before hanging his boots. Baresi had six Serie A titles, three UEFA Champions League titles and two European Super Cups along with some international titles.
The master of freekicks and offensive wingback, Roberto Carlos makes into the list slotting to the left-back spot. He was part of the star-studded Real Madrid along with the Brazil national team. He came to India at the fag end of his career and was featured in three games for Odisha FC.
Key players in Barcelona’s dominance throughout 2000-2010, Xavi and Iniesta played a big role in the midfield. Though most of them credit the fame to Lionel Messi, it was the work of Xavi and the brilliance of Iniesta that helped the team all the way. Despite winning the national and international cups and trophies, the players got shadowed between the brilliance of Messi and the magic of Ronaldo.
Frank Ribery is one of the unluckiest players to ever lose the race of Ballon d’Or. In the period of dominance of Messi and Ronaldo in La Liga, Ribery was banging goals and raking up assists in the Bundesliga. However, the credentials could not up the ante to deliver the title.
The former Chelsea manager and Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard is an underrated midfielder in European football. Not only he take Chelsea to heights but he also helped Manchester City to reach heights in the English Premier League. He finished second in the 2005 Ballon d’Or race to Ronaldinho missing the title.
Two strikers who will always be robbed in the history of Ballon d’Or will be Thierry Henry and Robert Lewandowski will make it to the list. In 2003, it was Thierry Henry who missed out on the trophy with Pavel Nedved stealing under his eyes and in 2021, it was Lewandowski who was robbed. Thierry Henry had titles and numbers in the 2002/03 season before missing out on the coveted title.
Manuel Neuer, Francesco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Sergio Ramos, Roberto Carlos, Frank Lampard, Andres Iniesta, Frank Ribery, Xavi, Thierry Henry, Robert Lewandowski