Manuel Neuer rightly belongs to the top three for the choice of world footballer of the year. But whether he has a chance against Messi and Ronaldo, is questionable.
But one thing is certain: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer in the opinion of FIFA, are the three best footballers on the planet.
This trio have been nominated for the World Player of the Year vote that will be announced at the Gala evening on 12 January 2015 in Zurich.
Other world class players go away empty handed, such as the World Champions Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm, or the bustling Arjen Robben.
There was no general outcry over the nominations in Germany because Germany does have its first nomination in the top 3 since Oliver Kahn twelve years ago.
Back then, the goalkeeper was rewarded for an outstanding 2002 World Cup, but landed right behind Ronaldo in second place. ‘El Fenomeno’ and his team had scored two goals in the final game – but in Kahn’s case he goofed up and this proved crucial.
This time the situation is very different: Neuer also played in the final in Rio outstanding and had, thanks to its flawless tournament, a vast contribution to his country’s fourth World Cup triumph.
Therefore, his nomination is well deserved, but the first Ballon d’Or for a DFB-Star since Lothar Matthäus in 1991 is by no means guaranteed. Quite the contrary.
Indeed, in recent years, the trend has been for the clear choice of individuals rather than electing the better team player, which Neuer undoubtedly is compared to his rivals.
In 2010 Messi was triumphant, though he had neither won with Barca or with Argentina at international level. And last year hailed Ronaldo, although he had previously brought to Real Madrid just a single title.
Although not ‘winners’ in terms of titles, the two superstars were breaking goal scoring record after goal scoring record, and this season the prolific shooting record continues: Messi was crowned last week as the Champions League top scorer of all time, Ronaldo had scored in the first 12 games in the Primera Division a sensational 20 times.
Neuer can’t keep up when it comes to scoring goals – he has only shone so far only as a scorer in the penalty shootout of the Champions League final in 2012 against Chelsea. However, the Bayern keeper would still be a worthy winner: as a reward for his modern goalkeeping, his incredible skill and of course the World Cup victory.
But whether the coaches and captains of national teams, and selected journalists, from all 209 FIFA member countries from Vanuatu to Andorra via Panama, all see the same way you have to unfortunately have serious doubts.
Martin Volkmar is a member of the Editorial Board of leading German sports channel SPORT1 and Head of the Online Desk (www.sport1.de). He has covered, among others, two World cups, two European Championships and four Champions League finals.