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Barcelona dominate the Ballon d'Or shortlist but should Busquets have been included?

Does Busquets’ non-inclusion mean much to the player himself? Apparently not; the 27-year-old only values opinions from his coaches, team-mates and people within the game

Barcelona dominate the Ballon d'Or shortlist but should Busquets have been included?
Barcelona dominate the Ballon d'Or shortlist but should Busquets have been included?

Does Busquets’ non-inclusion mean much to the player himself? Apparently not; the 27-year-old only values opinions from his coaches, team-mates and people within the game

Busquets Bale Bernabéu

| Getty images #498205418

When FIFA announced the 23-man shortlist for the 2015 Ballon d’Or in October, Sergio Busquets was a notable omission from the list. Busquets, who had won the treble with Barcelona last season, failed to make the cut while six of his Blaugrana team-mates made it into the list.

But should he have been included? Barca manager Luis Enrique regularly talks highly of Busquets, and even hailed him as the best midfielder in the world recently. Does Busquets’ non-inclusion mean much to the player himself? Apparently not; the 27-year-old only values opinions from his coaches, team-mates and people within the game.

“I care a lot more about praise from coaches, teammates and football people than the opinions of a jury who are interested in players with a high media profile. That’s not me,” Busquets told TV3 in an interview.

The 2015 Ballon d’Or has a distinct Barca flavour to it. Right from the 23-man shortlist, Barca have dominated the selections. And rightly so, given their trophy-laden year thus far and their chance to pick another silverware later this month in the Club World Cup to be held in Japan. With the list now down to just three, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo prevented a MSN podium.

Lionel Messi and Neymar made the final selections along with Ronaldo, which meant Luis Suarez missed out on the top three. It also meant a financial windfall for Neymar’s former club, Santos. Santos are due to receive two million euros due to a clause in Neymar’s contract which entitles the club to a bonus if Neymar makes it as a finalist in the Ballon d’Or stakes.

Messi’s superlative 2015 in comparison to his rivals makes him the favourite to win the coveted crown after suffering the disappointment of two successive second-placed finishes in the past two years. Messi’s phenomenal year culminating in a first major international tournament win for Argentina failed to materialise, but he has had a phenomenal year nonetheless.

Aside from leading Barca to four trophies in this calendar year which could yet become five, Messi’s haul of 48 goals and 24 assists for both club and country has made 2015 one of his more productive years, although his 91-goal year of 2012 will take some beating. Stats and arguments regarding who lands the coveted crown in January’s gala in Zurich will be commonplace in the coming days, but Busquets will barely care.

Busquets is currently having one of his more consistent campaigns this season. The La Masia graduate has been the bona fide star in Barca’s midfield at a time when his partners in the centre have missed minutes due to a combination of various factors including injuries, suspensions and variable team selections. But Busquets has been ever present in the starting eleven in the league, clocking 13 starts in 13 games.

“It [Ballon d’Or] is not something I prioritise and that I’ve given value to. What I give more value to is what my team-mates say,” Busquets’ narrative is simple yet important. For the player who provides constant solutions throughout the 90 minutes for the likes of Messi and Neymar to express themselves, a disregard for individual accolades comes as no surprise.

Had he entertained dreams to collect individual awards, Barca wouldn’t have been the Barca we know now. In a parallel universe, Busquets is the Messi of individual awards, a universe where the vague details of a defensive midfielder’s contribution to the greater cause of the team is valued more. But not in this universe.

Busquets certainly deserves his shot at personal glory, but the fact no defensive midfielder has won the prestigious prize in the current century is proof enough of how the game is being seen in modern times. Busquets doesn’t hold the currency to success as the likes of Messi and Neymar do, but take him out of the team, and Barca look an entirely different, weaker unit. And that is enough to quantify the importance of the individual named Busquets.

By Abhijit Bharali, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter here.