The Ballon d’Or list; a compilation of the very best names in world football taking into account the one-year period that preceeds the ceremony.
One of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi has won every year since 2007, with the former the favourite to secure the fifth gong of his career and second in a row.
The list this year has once again thrown up some top stars who have brilliant past years including Neymar, Eden Hazard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and half of Real Madrid’s team, basically.
But which of the bunch have luckily managed to worm their way onto the list?
5. Karim Benzema – Real Madrid
It might seem harsh to place any Real Madrid player on this list of underserving players.
The Frenchman is underrated and under-appreciated at the Bernabeu, but the Ballon d’Or is about recognising standout individuals, and unfortunately he cannot shine with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale either side of him. Even though the latter did miss a lot of game time last season through injury, Isco came in to take a lot of the plaudits.
He only managed 11 La Liga goals in 29 matches last season, and you might have expected a better return from him knowing the team scored 106 in total in the league in 2016/17. For some context Alvaro Morata, the team’s second striker, managed 15 in 26.
He is an important player for Real, but probably not deserving of a place on the Ballon d’or shortlist.
4. Paulo Dybala – Juventus
Paulo Dybala may have flown out of the traps this season with 10 goals in his first seven matches but his past year probably isn’t enought to warrant a spot on the shortlist of the Ballon d’Or.
There is no doubt that the Argentine ace will be making shortlists for years to come such is his ability, but he is still relatively raw at the age of 23 and his past 12 months were not stellar.
Juventus stormed to another Serie A title in 2016/17 and Dybala showed flashes of brilliance on the way to scoring 11 league goals but their main men were at the other end of the pitch as Gianluigi Buffon and co stood solid in defence. Giorgio Chiellini or Dani Alves might have been more deserving of Dybala’s spot.
3. Sadio Mane – Liverpool
Sadio Mane was electric in his first season with Liverpool and was by far and away their best player as the club successfully qualified for this season’s Champions League.
Unfortunately though, he missed too many games and didn’t come close enough to winning anything to warrant inclusion on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Mane missed a crucial handful of games whilst on AFCON duty with Senegal, and then, through no fault of his own, was injured for the top four run in. Only players that were consistent regulars should be able to make their way onto the list, right?
2. Edinson Cavani – Paris Saint-Germain
You can only beat what’s put out in front of you, but that shouldn’t mean you deserve to be placed onto the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Edinson Cavani amassed some impressive stats on the face of it last season, but his 35 league goals aren’t all that. Four came in one game against defensive disasters Caen and remember that he was also the club’s penalty-taker.
Stat-padding in the French league is fairly cheap and to be honest, the man lives in an offside position. Also, note that one-on-one miss against Barcelona in the Champions League at the Nou Camp which would have spared PSG’s blushes…
1. Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool
Sorry Liverpool fans, but your other shortlisted star isn’t that deserving of his place either.
Philippe Coutinho started off the 2016/17 season in good form but picked up an unfortunate ankle injury against Sunderland which sidelined him for a couple of months.
He returned and spent another couple of months trying to get back to the way he was before turning on the style against for the Reds’ top four run in.
Admittedly, he was great when the club needed their top players to step up to secure Champions League football – and clearly Barcelona rate him very highly.
By his standards though it wasn’t his best season, and a certain Danish playmaker over at Tottenham can probably feel a little bit aggrieved he wasn’t recognised instead.