The 2016 nomination list for the Ballon d’Or was released on Monday and once again there are no surprises.
Although the 30-man list includes players such as Leicester City duo Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, conventional wisdom would predict that the likely winner will once again be a coin toss between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Between them they have won every single Ballon d’Or award since 2007 which indicates either an obsession with these incredibly talented players, or a lack of depth of truly outstanding football players.
This year’s award will see a return to its original format after the partnership between France Football and FIFA came to an end. This means that unlike the 2010 to 2015 awards, national team coaches and captains will not vote, as the decision now lies with a panel of global journalists.
This change might shake up the eventual order of top three players if the varied opinions of journalists can be relied upon.
Once again no African player is being tipped to win the award which has eluded African hands since George Weah won it in 1995.
Africa is experiencing a dearth of truly world class players, compared to the 90s and early noughties, when the likes of Nwankwo Kanu and Didier Drogba stamped their authority on their respective teams. Currently, Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez are the only African players on the list.
African players need not be satisfied with simply playing in teams in Europe, sitting on the bench and earning foreign currency wages. Their target should be to rise above their peers and show the global audience what Africa has to offer. The great Pelé once said that an African nation would win the World Cup; I would like to see an African player win the Ballon d’Or first.