It is time of the year where the FIFA world player of the year is decided by the votes of coaches and captains of national team worldwide.
But before we go into the discussion of the list of players drawn for 2007, an introduction of the mechanism of the system would be discussed first. The award was started in 1991 for the male player and in 2001 for the female player categories respectively. Basically, the coaches and national team captains would vote for players drawn by the technical committees of FIFA. The system used is called the Borda count where each coach and captain would get three votes (one of five points, one of three points and one of one point) to cast for the players of his choice. And the winner would be determined by the total of points received. The winner last year is Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro of Real Madrid.
Now to the list of players short listed for the award this year. Heading the list are five players of Italian descent, they are Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo. Except for Cannavaro and Buffon (Juventus), the remaining three players of the UEFA 2006-2007 champions league winners AC Milan. However the chances of an Italian repeating the feat of winning is slim this year as the national team did not perform to its best after World Cup 2006 and as for domestically, the Serie A is recovering from the scars of the scandal hit season.
Next up would be the discussion of the English contenders for the title. They are Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), John Terry (Chelsea) and Wayne Rooney (Manchester United). Looking at chances of the English contenders, none of them have high chances of clinching the title as the English national team has a difficult Euro 2008 qualifying campaign so far and they did not any outstanding club exploits last season. The other reasons are although Manchester United and Chelsea went head to head in the Premiership race, they failed to impress at the UEFA Champions league level. As for Gerrard, if Liverpool did won the last season UEFA Champions league final against AC Milan, then his chances would be different. However they did not and Liverpool had another of its forgettable seasons in the league again.
As for the French, they have Thierry Henry (Barcelona), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Lillan Thuram (Barcelona) and Patrick Vieira (Inter Milan) short listed. At the moment, the chances of the French are as slim as the English for similar reasons. Henry has been a world class player, but he could not inspire Arsenal to the Premiership title and for this season, he is still adapting to his new club, Barcelona. Ribery also did not have the best of seasons last year and has changed clubs in the summer, leaving for Bungesliga Giants, Munich from the sleeping giants of French Football, Marseille. In Vieria’s case, Inter Milan did retain their Serie A title last season, but as mentioned above, the title seen to be given to Inter midst point deduction for several Serie A clubs and demotion of Juventus. Hence he would not have a high chance in this year’s competition for the best player’s title. For Thuram, it is even more gloomer as he did not feature in a lot of his club’s games last season and Barcelona failed to defend its La Liga title.
Brazil has three players short listed in Kaka (AC Milan), Juninho (Lyon) and Ronaldinho (Barcelona). Although the Brazilians have a forgettable world cup 2006, however one of three can be considered as a highly possible contender for the title. He is Kaka. The reason is that he has also won the FIFPro 2007 Player of the year award and it was he that inspired AC Milan to winning the UEFA Champions League midst a disappointing Serie A 2006-2007 campaign. As for Ronaldinho, a previous two time winner (2004 and 2005), his chances this year are quite slim as he was not in the best form last season with the Catalans Giants as they lost out to Real Madrid in the La Liga title. In the case of Juninho, other than inspiring Lyon to six consecutive French Ligue 1 titles, he had no major efforts of note last season.
As for Brazil’s South American rival, Argentina too has three players short listed in Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Juan Roman Riquelme (River) and Carlos Tevez (Manchester United). Of the three, Messi’s chances are the highest as he has continued where he left off last season with eight goals in as many games this season. Tevez had a difficult season in which his transfer reeks of a drama serial while Riquelme with his talent to a lot of people has choked on the big stages once too often.
Another highly possible contender for the title is Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United. With his 23 goals, English Premiership Player of the year award and PFA player’s player of the year award last season, he can be seen as a major reason why Manchester United managed to regain the English Premiership title. Furthermore, in midst of enduring an anti-Ronaldo season after his antics at World Cup 2006, it is a wonder that he could conjure up such a wonderful season. Another Portuguese short listed is Deco of Barcelona who for all his talents was a bit player for Catalans last season and hence his chances are not very high then.
The remaining players of 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). Of seven remaining players, Ruud Van Nistelrroy may have the best chance as he was the top scorer for Real Madrid in their title winning squad last season and has continued his fine form this season. As for players of Chelsea and Barcelona, their failure in defending the title and poor UEFA Champions League showing would count against them. Lastly, Torres, the sole Spanish in the list, like Henry has traded clubs where he left his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid for English side Liverpool in the summer. His chances are very slim as during his time as Atletico Madrid, the team failed to establish it as La Liga contenders and as for his new club, he is still adapting there.
Lastly to summarize my views on FIFA 2007 Player of the year, my choice of player to win is the Kaka of AC Milan with Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) to give him a run for the title. The results would be out this December 2007 at the FIFA World Player Gala in Zurich.