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Stewart Coggin

Sneijder The Odd Man Out

By December 6, 2010

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The three contenders for this year's FIFA Ballon d'Or award were announced on Monday, and Wesley Sneijder's omission has prompted much debate.

The Dutchman was instrumental last season as Inter Milan won the treble of Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia. He also scored five goals as the Netherlands reached the World Cup final in South Africa.

But Barcelona trio Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, and Xavi have been selected from the 23-man shortlist, with the winner revealed at the Ballon d'Or gala on 10 January 2011.

Sneijder's absence at the awards seems harsh given his achievements in the first half of the year. But despite being the five-goal joint top scorer at the World Cup, his individual performances were not of the highest standard, and in terms of sustained quality, Xavi and Iniesta provided more. He has also failed to sparkle with Inter so far this season, and is nowhere near the level he was at under Jose Mourinho.

But Inter president Massimo Moratti, for one, is unhappy.

"I find it very unjust, Sneijder had a phenomenal season and he won everything he could have, for me he deserved to win the Ballon d'Or," said the oil tycoon.

Reports in Europe claim that Iniesta will win the World Footballer of the Year award. He missed much of last season through injury, starting just 20 Primera Division games. But as was demonstrated when Fabio Cannavaro won the Ballon d'Or award in 2006, a strong World Cup can make or break a player's bid to win the gong.

Iniesta performed better than Sneijder at the tournament, and scored the winning goal in the final. I do not believe it is fair that a good performance at that tournament is the defining factor, but it is a reality.

For this reason, Iniesta looks like walking away with the Ballon d'Or ahead of Messi and Xavi, who have played more regularly, and in my opinion, more consistently than their teammate in 2010.

My choice? Despite Messi's sublime dribbles and goals, I would plump for Xavi Hernandez. The midfield metronome is a model of consistency in the center of the field, and it is a long time since I have seen a player so regularly dictate the tempo of a match.

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