Why were Chiesa, Insigne and Verratti snubbed from Ballon d’Or shortlist?

by | Oct 11, 2021 14:32

France Football has named a 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or and Stephen Kasiewicz wonders why Federico Chiesa, Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti do not feature among the best players of the year.

The annual announcement of the Ballon d’Or nomination list can turn even the most rational football fan into a conspiracy theorist. It usually prompts an avalanche of unanswered questions.

Who are the faceless group from France Football that compiles the contenders? Is it nothing more than a shallow, predetermined popularity contest? Why are goalkeepers and defenders all but excluded from winning the main award? Arguments erupt on social media; trolls emerge from their caves and when all is said and done Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo usually end up with the gleaming golden ball.

Only five Italians have picked up the coveted best player prize since the award’s inception in 1956 – Omar Sivori, who played for both the Azzurri and Argentina (1961), Gianni Rivera (1969), Paolo Rossi (1982), Roberto Baggio (1993) and Fabio Cannavaro (2006).

Yet there is genuine optimism that Jorginho could join them after an outstanding year in which the Chelsea and Italy midfielder won both the Champions League and European Championship.

Lippi and Sacchi: ‘Jorginho for Ballon d’Or’

Four other members of the triumphant Azzurri squad were named in the 30 strong contingent of contenders. Paris Saint Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – widely regarded as the best in the world in his position – the agelessly dominant Juventus defensive duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini and brilliant Inter midfielder Nicolò Barella.

Only two other players from Serie A were recognized – Milan and Denmark central defender Simon Kjaer and Inter’s Argentine forward Lautaro Martinez – in a questionable list that includes a host of predictably familiar names.

The glaring omission of Juventus winger Federico Chiesa, Napoli talisman Lorenzo Insigne and Paris Saint Germain’s Marco Verratti suggests that there is an underlying bias in the selection process. This school of thought ties in with a growing movement of Italian football Tifosi who strongly believe Serie A sides have been the victims of blatantly unfavourable refereeing decisions in the Champions League over the last few seasons.

The criteria for the Ballon d’Or shortlist is unknown but has favoured attackers, predominantly from Spain’s La Liga and players based in the English Premier League over the last decade. The decision-making committee seems to adopt a scattergun approach.

Perhaps the staffers of France Football are given green tracksuits and a different cut-out face mask of a world-renowned player. A shadowy red-figure then instructs them to embark on a frenzied adult Squid Game style elimination contest of Petanque in a secret Parisian bolt-house to choose the nominees. Or maybe they use the old-fashioned method of picking names out of a hat.

Regardless, the absence of Chiesa is the most baffling, especially considering his exceptional international form. The 23-year-old fuelled the Azzurri’s surge to the European Championship title, scoring stunning goals against Austria and Spain on the way to the final. His formidable speed, direct style and dextrous dribbling skills sparked a second-half comeback as Italy overcame England at Wembley to claim a memorable victory, and he is now an irreplaceable mainstay in Roberto Mancini’s side. Chiesa has often provided inspiration and impetus in a Juventus team sorely lacking both and claimed the Italian Cup and Supercup with the Old Lady last term.

It would be an exercise in futility to make direct comparisons between the former Fiorentina player and others on the list, but it is still a perplexing snub.

Kjaer nominated for Ballon d’Or: ‘For us, you have already won’

Insigne was also given the cold shoulder despite playing an integral role in the Azzurri’s UEFA Euro 2020 victory. The trademark curler which stunned Belgium in the quarter-final showed the Napoli winger at his finest. It is no exaggeration to say the 30-year-old ranks among the absolute best in his position across the top five European leagues. If the domestic form is considered a barometer of success, then Insigne would surely have made the list. He netted a career-high nineteen goals for Napoli in Serie A last term, and continues to lead by example as the Neapolitans sit at the top of the standings with a perfect record this season.

Verratti was the only member of the Azzurri midfield trio to be left out. Jorginho and Barella both received nominations, yet the Paris Saint Germain playmaker was not deemed good enough to join them. In a rare season in which he failed to pick up another French Ligue 1 title, the deep-lying playmaker made a remarkable return from injury at EURO 2020. Absent from the opening two group matches, the 28-year-old excelled in every area of the midfield thereafter. He put on a passing masterclass – completing 93% of all passes made – provided three assists, tracked back tirelessly and regained possession several times at key moments as Italy were deservedly crowned European champions.

The great and the good of Italian football, including luminaries such as Arrigo Sacchi and Marcello Lippi, have already backed Jorginho to win the men’s Ballon d’Or award.

The Brazilian born midfielder would be a worthy winner, but it is still a mystery why only five members of the European Championship winning team, and just two others from Serie A, merited selection on the shortlist in the first place.

@SKasiewicz

14 Comments

  1. AcMilan21

    I think they want the world to have only one picture about Italy: they are only good at defending and this why they included more defenders. in 2006, even though Cannavaro was great, I still think it should have been Pirlo.

    At least Chiesa and Insigne should have been included.

  2. Jono

    To me the biggest snub was Dollarumma over Jan Oblak (who was named La Liga player of the season). Donnarumma had a good season and all but I found that one really surprising. Chiellini on the list was also surprising – no doubt he deserves recognition but he was injured and did not play most of the year. Son Heun Min not being on the list is a bigger shock to me than Chiesa.

  3. Jono

    Curious – does anyone here actually believe that Jorginho was a better player over 12 months than Messi, Lewandowski, or even his Chelsea teammate N’Golo Kante?

  4. Rosario

    If Jorginho was not brazilian born, he wouldn’t be a ‘favourite’ either.

  5. Rosario

    @Jono

    Lay off the booze, fella.

  6. mr bone

    It is not just this nomination. Chiesa was only rated 83 in FIFA, 1 less than Luis Alberto and hundreds of others from La Liga and EPL. Yes, there is a clear bias.

  7. frankie

    At the end of the day, who really cares about these individua awards? We all know France Football are a bunch of pillocks. There’s bias everywhere you look with these awards and the Serie A bias extends not just to awards, but also to UEFA and other institutions. All Serie A can do is keep developing players, keep growing and competing as best they can and most importantly, keep growing Italian players so we can win more Euros and World cups and stick it up everyone who hates Italian football.

  8. Sheva Milan

    I feel Chiesa is the only real snub but he wasn’t going to win it anyways. There’s no use making sense of it. I’d say the Ballon d’Or lost a lot of value ever since 2010 when it was supposed to be between Sneijder,Milito,and Robben but it was gifted to Messi. You could argue it was a one-off but I thought Pirlo or Iniesta should have beaten Messi in 2012 as well. Then you have 2013 when they gifted it to a trophyless Cristiano despite Ribery or any other Bayern Munich star being more deserving. The 30 man shortlist doesn’t really matter, I mean Bonucci is there. It’ll be close this year but I think the players who deserve to win it are Lewandowski, Donnarumma, Suarez, De Bruyne, Jorginho, Kante

  9. ITALIAN ALL THE WAY

    Does anyone take this award seriously to award messi and ronaldo for the past few years is a joke. On international level they achieved nothing, portugal got lucky with (1) euro and in la liga they were gifted the UCLs other then winning one. LA liga players are a joke and so is la liga compared to seria A. Looking at it skill level wise seria A is the best hence why we have so many world cups and catching up on euros. Insigne and Chies are top in italy and u can mention a few others. Ronaldo Messi should have never had this much recognition other then great marketing pieces. So many better players in the world then them. Ronaldo failure in Juve sums it up thats why messi never came. Ibra said it best u dont come to seria and join juve to prove something and he failed there also.

  10. Sammy

    Jono.. You’re obviously just hater of Italian players, trying justify picking other players over Italians with ridiculous reasons. Who cares Jan Oblak won Spain’s domestic league award lol. Son are for real, what’s he won on domestic or international with his club, nothing.. not even the Prem league top goal scorer, this isn’t Spanish or English domestic league award .. . it’s about international club level and international competition. Jorginho last year won for his club the international Champions league trophy, Euro biggest most important competition the quadrennial European championship AND UEFA player of the year, which they determine by stats, only I think two people have EVER won all three in the same year. Also Donnarumma was Euro’s player of the competition

    If this was about scoring a lot goals for domestic league than Ciro should be on be on the list at least he also was also a integral part of the winning Euro team, unlike Lewandowski. Who won nothing but the Bundesliga domestic award which his club have won it every year for like last 20 years.

  11. Sammy

    “This school of thought ties in with a growing movement of Italian football Tifosi who strongly believe Serie A sides have been the victims of blatantly unfavourable refereeing decisions in the Champions League over the last few seasons.”

    It is obvious to anyone honest that UEFA officiating especially done to favour Spanish and English clubs. Just look AC Milan last game, even their first game first 10 minutes playing at with Liverpool, AC Milan got a penalty against them. Napoli also forced play with ten men team on stupid call for the ref the same week.

    Seville and Atlético Madrid were given nonexistent penalties to help them tie and win the game their second Porto had a goal taken away in their first with Atlético Madrid.

    Even the Nations league competition what was that, giving such soft yellow cards to make Italy play with 10 men in a semifinal.

  12. who me

    all i know is CHIESA’s the new DEL PIERO / TOTTI. kids a beast. i hope he can keep up this pace and go further without ever being injured.
    i might be going to far but he could even be the next BAGGIO for La Nazionale.

  13. TSObhung

    Serie A sides have been the victims of blatantly unfavourable refereeing decisions in the Champions League over the last few seasons.

    No, it is DECADES….. From refereeing to group drawing of European club competitions.

  14. ITALIAN ALL THE WAY

    People that run Uefa hate Italy starting with Platini, the frenchmen remember napolean and hisown country betrayed him. But lets not forget the ITalian media and reporters and journalist all paid to write what they are told. Still writing about Ronaldo and few accomplishmnets whil in fact he was a total failure in Italy. WE have the best player beginning with Chiesa, Zaniolo etc and the list can go on. But where are these real journalist, we dont have any. They are just dictaphones being spoken to on what to write. I mean seriously does anyone read some of the articles on this site and others they all write nonsense on other league players that are completely worthless. There are a few ok player but we have and have had the best. The problem is young viewers today dont & wont know because no one writes indepth or explains our soccer history, its in our blood.

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