This is the time of year when the FIFA World Player of the Year is chosen by votes from coaches and captains of national teams around the world.
But before entering into the discussion of the list of actors drawn for 2007, an introduction of the mechanism of the system would first be discussed. The award was launched in 1991 for the male player and in 2001 for the female player categories respectively. Basically, the coaches and captains of the national teams would vote for the players selected by the FIFA technical committees. The system used is called the Borda tally where each coach and captain would get three votes (one out of five points, one out of three points and one out of one point) to choose the players of their choice. And the winner would be determined by the total points received. The winner last year is Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro from Real Madrid.
Now let’s move on to the list of players shortlisted for the award this year. Topping the list, five players of Italian origin are Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo. With the exception of Cannavaro and Buffon (Juventus), the three remaining players of AC Milan, winner of the 2006-2007 UEFA Champions League. However, the chances for an Italian to repeat the feat of winning are slim this year as the national team did not perform at their best after the 2006 World Cup and as for the national level, Serie A is recovering from the scars of scandal season.
The next step would be the discussion of the English title contenders. They are Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea) and Wayne Rooney (Manchester United). As for the chances of the English contenders, none of them have a great chance of securing the title as the England national team have a tough qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 so far and they don’t have not operated a club last season. The other reasons are that although Manchester United and Chelsea have faced each other in the Premiership, they have failed to impress at UEFA Champions League level. As for Gerrard, if Liverpool won last season’s UEFA Champions League final against AC Milan, their chances would be different. However, they failed to do so and Liverpool once again enjoyed one of their unforgettable seasons in the league.
As for the French, they have preselected Thierry Henry (Barcelona), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Lillan Thuram (Barcelona) and Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan). At the moment, the chances of the French are as slim as those of the English for similar reasons. Henry was a world-class player, but he couldn’t inspire Arsenal to the Premiership title and for this season he is still adjusting to his new club, Barcelona. Ribery also didn’t have the best of seasons last year and changed clubs this summer, leaving for Bungesliga Giants, Munich of the sleeping giants of French football, Marseille. In the case of Vieria, Inter Milan retained their Serie A title last season but as mentioned above the title appears to be given to Inter, points deducted for several Serie A clubs and demotion of Juventus. Therefore, he wouldn’t have a great chance in this year’s competition for the title of the best player. For Thuram it is even darker as he didn’t appear in many of his club’s games last season and Barcelona failed to defend their La Liga title.
Brazil has three preselected players in Kaka (AC Milan), Juninho (Lyon) and Ronaldinho (Barcelona). Although the Brazilians have an unforgettable 2006 World Cup, one of the three can be considered a highly possible contender for the title. He is Kaka. The reason is that he also won the 2007 FIFPro Player of the Year award and it was he who inspired AC Milan to win the UEFA Champions League in the midst of a 2006- Serie A campaign. 2007 disappointing. As for Ronaldinho, a former two-time winner (2004 and 2005), his chances this year are pretty slim as he was not in top form last season with the Catalans Giants when they lost to Real Madrid during the La Liga title. In Juninho’s case, other than inspiring Lyon to six consecutive French Ligue 1 titles, he didn’t have any major effort of note last season.
As for South American rival Brazil, Argentina also has three shortlisted players: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Juan Roman Riquelme (River) and Carlos Tevez (Manchester United). Of the three, Messi’s chances are the highest as he continued where he left off last season with eight goals in as many games this season. Tevez has had a rough season in which his transfer reeks of a dramatic soap opera while Riquelme with his talent for many people has choked once too often on the big stages.
Another highly possible contender for the title is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United. With his 23 goals, the English Premiership Player of the Year award and the PFA Player of the Year award last season, he can be seen as one of the main reasons Manchester United have managed to regain the title of English Prime Minister. Plus, in the midst of an anti-Ronaldo season following his 2006 World Cup antics, it’s a wonder he can conjure up such a wonderful season. Barcelona’s Deco is another Portuguese preselection who, despite all his talents, was a bit of a Catalans player last season and so his chances are not very high.
The other players on the short list are Fernando Torres (Spain, Liverpool), Ruud Van Nistelrroy (Holland, Real Madrid), Petr Cech (Czech Republic, Chelsea), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea), Michael Essien (Ghana , Chelsea)), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, Barcelona) and Rafael Marquez (Mexico, Barcelona). Out of seven remaining players, Ruud Van Nistelrroy may have the best chance as he was Real Madrid’s top scorer in their title-winning squad last season and has continued his fine form this season. As for the Chelsea and Barcelona players, their failure to defend the title and poor performance in the UEFA Champions League would count against them. Finally, Torres, the only Spaniard on the list, like Henry, traded clubs where he left his childhood club, Atletico Madrid, for England’s Liverpool side this summer. His chances are very slim as in the Atletico Madrid era the team failed to establish him as La Liga contender and as for his new club, he is still adjusting to it.
Finally, to sum up my take on the 2007 FIFA Player of the Year, my player pick to win is AC Milan’s Kaka with Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) to give him a run for the title. The results would be published in December 2007 at the FIFA World Player’s Gala in Zurich.