Football

Suarez the 
big miss

Enrique, Messi and Neymar believe Uruguayan should have made Ballon d'Or list

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique admitted he feels for Luis Suarez, after the Uruguayan missed out on joining teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar as one of the three finalists for the 2015 Ballon d'Or.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo will join Messi and Neymar on the podium in Zurich on Jan 11 to crown the world's best player, with Messi the hot favourite to land his fifth Ballon d'Or.

However, many in Barcelona believe Suarez's contribution to Barca's treble-winning campaign last season ought to have been recognised ahead of Ronaldo, despite his goalscoring feats for Real.

"As a coach, I always want all my players to be on all the awards lists, but you have to understand that there are other players from other teams of a very good level," Enrique said yesterday, ahead of Barca's Copa del Rey tie against third-tier Villanovense tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Enrique then insisted that Messi should walk away with another prize in Zurich, after being nominated for the best goal of the year for his sensational solo effort in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.

Messi's strike is up against Alessandro Florenzi's incredible long-range effort against Barcelona for Roma back in September and Brazilian Wendell Lira, but Enrique believes the setting of Messi's goal in a Cup final gives it added value.

"It is more difficult to beat four or five players in a Cup final. The other one is in a Champions League group game and obviously has its merit.

"Florenzi is a player with a spectacular shot but, for me, Messi's has more merit."

Messi and Neymar were also winners at La Liga's awards for the 2014/15 season on Monday night and both also made the case for Suarez to have been included in the final three for the Ballon d'Or.

NEYMAR'S FIRST

"I am happy to be among the top three, to be going to another gala and be there with Ney," said Messi, who is a finalist for a ninth consecutive year.

"I would have liked for Luis to be there too because he deserved it for the year he had, but we can't also take away credit from Cristiano and he deserves it, too."

In contrast to Messi and Ronaldo, Neymar is nominated among the top three for the first time.

"It is one of the happiest days of my life," said the Brazilian star.

"Being nominated for Ballon d'Or means a lot. Suarez should have been there too, but Messi is the favourite, he's the number one for me."

Suarez arrived from Liverpool following disciplinary issues at last year's World Cup in Brazil that led to a lengthy ban, but he proved manager Enrique made a shrewd decision in tempting the striker from Merseyside.

While three men from the same team may have been deemed too many by the selectors, no European side have matched the statistical return of Barcelona in 2015, with the trio alone scoring 125 goals over the last calendar year.

The statistics show that Suarez's 40 club goals this year leave him just short of the totals amassed by the three nominees - Neymar (41), Lionel Messi (44) and Cristiano Ronaldo (45).

But the former Anfield kingpin scored 23 goals and provided 17 assists in just 37 appearances in La Liga and Europe combined last term, once again proving himself to be one of the great talents of world football.

- AFP.

luis suarezLionel messineymarBallon d’OrFootball