World Football

Franck Ribery 'Sad' Zlatan Ibrahimovic Is Not in Ballon d'Or Final 3

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 11:  Franck Ribery of France controls the ball during the International Friendly match between France and Australia at Parc des Princes on October 11, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images
Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

Franck Ribery is delighted to have been announced as one of FIFA's three finalists for this year's Ballon d'Or, but he has shown his unselfish side after revealing his disappointment that Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unable to make the cut.   

The Frenchman stands alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as one of those still in the running to be named the world's best player for 2013.

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - JULY 27:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of PSG reacts during the pre season friendly match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain at Ullevi on July 27, 2013 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

When interviewed by French radio station RTL (h/t ESPN) this week, Ribery said:

I'm happy, satisfied for myself, the club, and for my whole family. I'm a bit sad for Ibrahimovic because he remains a great player, he did some great things with Paris Saint-Germain. It's good for me to be among the three. We'll see. We're going to cross our fingers.

The 2012/13 campaign saw Ibrahimovic fire Paris Saint-Germain to their first Ligue 1 title in 19 years, an honour that Ribery never experienced during his days at Marseille.

So far in 2013, Ibrahimovic has scored 45 goals and made 18 assists, just over 20 shy of the tally that favourite Ronaldo has amassed in the same space of time. However, Ronaldo has not won a major trophy in the past 12 months.

Starring in Ribery's native France, Ibrahimovic has been a breath of fresh air for the division, maintaining his incredibly high standards in front of goal and arguably playing the best football of his career at the age of 32.

One can understand, therefore, why Ribery might be saddened that the striking sensation has failed to find his way into the last three, but with Ronaldo and Messi almost automatic entrants in the trio, it's the Frenchman who might be considered surplus if another name were to be added instead.

(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Franck Ribery (L), Lionel Messi (C) and Cristiano Ronaldo (R). All three players have been short listed for the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013, the winner of the award will be revealed at the
Getty Images/Getty Images

Ribery may not be as understanding if it were his running for the award at stake, especially after what has been such a hard-fought year of success for the 30-year-old.

The trickster's exploits on Bayern Munich's flanks helped lead the club to a treble in 2013, the Champions League crown ranking highest among Bayern's honours.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - AUGUST 30:  Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich celebrates with the trophy after victory during the UEFA Super Cup between Bayern Muenchen and Chelsea at Stadion Eden on August 30, 2013 in Prague, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Shaun Botte
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It also throws up the debate of what makes a Ballon d'Or winner. For the last four years, it's Messi's sheer mass of form in front of goal that has brought him successive awards, but it was only in 2006 that Fabio Cannavaro's defensive brilliance was enough to bring him the title.

This year, Ribery stands out as the Ballon d'Or misfit after scoring just 22 goals for both club and country in 2013, less than half of what Messi grabbed and less than a third of Ronaldo's haul, as Uber Football Facts show:

However, the debate is there to say that while the Frenchman may not have put the ball in the back of the net as often, his impact has still been nothing short of magnificent. He has also had the most success by way of silverware.

Ibrahimovic's omission shows exactly how high the quality of the competition is this year in what is a very good time to be a football fan.

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