It seems strange to have to write something defending Leo Messi. This week Messi was crowned world player of the year after the most prolific goalscoring season in European history. That was enough for most voters, although some picked Cristiano Ronaldo and others in the top spot. Very few objective voters ie. journalists, left Messi out of their top 3 altogether. When Joachim Low votes two german players in his top 3 and omitts Ronaldo and Messi you can say he was being loyal to his players but journalists are meant to be able to see things more objectivley.
The Irish media voting delegation of Jimmy Magee and journalist Paul Kelly omitted Leo Messi from their top 3. Today, in the Irish Examiner, Kelly wrote an article defending their decision.
Sublime individual talent that didn’t translate into major team trophies. Such was the story of Lionel Messi’s 2012, when his amazing tally of goals could not prevent FC Barcelona losing their La Liga and European crowns. Significantly, the great man fell short in the three matches that mattered most of all (against Real Madrid and Chelsea, twice, in April).
So when Jimmy Magee and I cast our vote in the media college for the Fifa Ballon d’Or, we favoured three players whose gifts throughout the year contributed more to the collective success of their respective teams.
So Kelly chooses to focus on three big games where Messi didn't score. Ok, but what do you do with the 91 goals he scored in his teams other games? What is worse is that Kelly savaged Giovanni Trappatoni for omitting Messi from his top 3 last year.
Trapattoni’s exclusion of Messi is baffling.
He often mentions the world’s most gifted player as the type of attacking genius not available to Ireland. And he will have known that Messi enjoyed a magnificent 2011, helping Barcelona to retain La Liga and regain the UEFA Champions League, in which he was top scorer for the third successive season.
A bit hypocritical given that Kelly did the same after what was arguably a better season from Messi. Kelly seems to hold it against Messi for not playing at Euro 2012 given those performances formed the basis of his selection of Iniesta and Pirlo. After all Iniesta played in the same "underachieving" Barcelona team as Messi last seasosn. The award looks at the football year as a whole. Messi was hardly quiet on the international front, scoring a hattrick against Brazil in a friendly. Pity Kelly and Magee seem to ignore Messi's sensational start to this season and focus solely on the end to the last one.