Bayern Munich and Germany keeper Manuel Neuer believes he has little chance of winning the Ballon d’Or, the title of world’s best footballer, because Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are in such great form.
Neuer admits that Ronaldo and Messi, the other two finalists for this year’s award, are scoring so prolifically for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively, that as a keeper he is the least likely of grabbing enough votes when the winner is announced on Jan. 12.
“It has never happened in recent years, Neuer said. “Oliver Kahn put in some outstanding performances in 2002 as well (that year the prize was won by Brazil’s Ronaldo), so you can see how hard it is.”
Neuer feels that keepers tend not to stand out so much, and it is goal scorers who grab the glory most and get most credit. “It is very unusual for goalkeepers to be the centre of attention, unless they let in a lot of goals,” Neuer said.
He feels that winning the World Cup in Brazil in the summer might have given him an advantage over the brilliant pair, “but of course they have scored more goals than I have”, he joked.
He also feels they deserve plenty of credit for their brilliance at international level.
What is not in dispute is that Neuer is the best keeper in the world.
Only once before has a keeper won the Ballon d’Or, but that was so long ago that it feels like ancient history. It was Russia’s Lev Yashin in 1963.
Over the years Dino Zoff and Oliver Kahn have received nominations but did not come close to securing the coveted title.
As a kid Neuer was a Schalke fan and grew up watching Jens Lehmann, the flamboyant stopper who went on to play for Arsenal and provided the template for Neuer’s style.
Neuer might have followed Lehmann to Arsenal who wanted to sign him from Schalke three years ago but he moved to Bayern.
It was at Germany’s premier club that he became established as one of the world’s best players. Having lost the 2012 Champions League final on penalties to Chelsea, Bayern went on to win the trophy at Wembley the following year as part of a magnificent treble.
Bayern are playing well again this season under former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and there is no denying that Neuer is a key player in their search for domestic and Champions League glory. Messi and Ronaldo may be the best outfield players but there is no denying that when it comes to goalkeeping, Neuer is in a class of his own.