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The Ballon d’Or has been whittled down to the final 23 and to be honest it is obvious who will be right at the top. Well, the top two anyway.
However, looking through the remaining 21 it is genuinely difficult to separate them. I have put how I would order them and a short explanation as to why.
While the Ballon d’Or is supposed to be based on a calendar year, I think that performances in World Cups and seasons previous actually have an impact and have considered them in my selection.
23. Gareth Bale
Not the best season for Gareth Bale, in fact he could consider himself lucky to be included. His stats were okay for Real Madrid despite injury but below what is expected.
He would have been far higher last year. His performances for Wales keep him in contention.
22. Arturo Vidal
A bit of a marmite player. He is playing well for Bayern and played a huge part in Juventus’ season.
A top player but while he is known for his work rate, he lacks a level of quality that I think players, that I have placed above him, possess.
21. Javier Mascherano
Always hard for defenders to make it into these lists. A great world cup and a great season for Barcelona, the Argentinian lacks flare but makes up for it with determination and success.
20. Karim Benzema
Would like to place Benzema higher but he plays second fiddle to many players at Real Madrid and while he is a top striker it has to be said he will always be considered just a shade below.
19. Yaya Toure
Not the best season again and has recently he has been complaining he is underrated. Too an extent I think he is right. He is definitely within the top 20 best players in the world.
When he is on top form he is as good as anyone. Would have been higher last year.
18. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Continually he proves he is a top player but as he continues to age, you question whether he really challenges the elite.
17. Andres Iniesta
Similar to Ibrahimovic, still a class above, but slowly moving out from the very top.
16. Toni Kroos
World Cup winner and current heartbeat of Real Madrid. Would be higher if Real Madrid won everything there was, but there is no doubting his quality.
15. Kevin De Bruyne
Could be higher to be honest. An amazing season for De Bruyne, fantastic at the World Cup, huge season at Wolfsburg and one of the most expensive players in the world.
He is now really looking the part. Maybe hasn’t done it for long enough to constitute a top, top place. Expect him to be far higher next year.
This piece was first published at the excellent The Players Only Club here.
Written by Jonny Troy
Follow Jonny on Twitter @Jonny_Troy
Check out his excellent football blog, where this piece was originally published: The Players Only Club
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