The Gunners’ boss substantiated his claim by first acknowledging:
“Messi is certainly the best player I have ever seen in the game.”
However, he pointed out that the Ballon d’Or has traditionally been awarded to players who have achieved for and with their team – not for what they have achieved as an individual. Wenger continued,
“For once he has not been in a team that won absolutely everything. He did not win the Champions League, he did not win the Spanish league and he didn't win anything with his country, but individually it's true he had an exceptional year, scoring 91 goals.”
Wenger then went on to assert his belief that Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo deserved the award more, by that logic. Ronaldo will have undoubtedly have reason to feel aggrieved after having what was his best season to date with Madrid who did indeed with the Spanish championship last season.
Equally, Wenger mentioned Andres Iniesta as another strong candidate who he believes also “deserved it more” than Messi after he won the European Championship with Spain.
Wenger does have a point and he makes a good case for it. Very few would find the notion that Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world contentious but, as Wenger rightly highlights, at club and international level he did not achieve exceptional success last season, as both his competitors for the Ballon d’Or did.
Ronaldo’s face when the winner was announced said all really, he must have been thinking “what more do I have to do?”
Whilst I have little sympathy for Cristiano Ronaldo, he is and was last season the closest technically to Lionel Messi that anyone has and probably will get in Messi’s playing career. Ronaldo won the Spanish title and the Supercopa de Espana with Madrid and Messi won nothing (in terms of trophies).
Perhaps you could make a case then for Messi getting the Ballon d’Or as a consolation prize? He is the best footballer in the world, after all.