When it comes to individual awards in the world of football, there's pretty much a group of three or four players we know will be the finalists each year no matter what happens. That means the list before the final list is actually something people tend to care about. They won't be finalists, but the recognition still is pretty nice.
Below are the six Juventus players who were included in FIFA's 59-man shortlist for the annual Ballon d'Or. Some of them are still around and contributing quite a bit these days, while the other half of them departed over the summer. I think you can guess which one is which. We're all smart people around these parts.
So, without much more blabbering about, those six players:
Paul Pogba, Álvaro Morata, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tévez
Here's a list of Juventus players who weren't included:
Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci
There should be a laugh track attached to what has just been written. Except it's not a joke. It's not a prank that will end with all your friends coming out from behind the blinds and proceeding to laugh and laugh and laugh.
So what did Buffon do to not make the 59-man shortlist? That's a pretty good question. Let's take a closer look from a little game he played in back in June of this year called the Champions League final. You guys and gals might have heard of it once or twice.
Man, I'm sure glad that guy didn't waste a spot on FIFA's beloved list of possible Ballon d'Or recipients. What a waste that award would have been.
You have to wonder what a guy like Buffon would have to do to actually get nominated. Oh, right, apparently be Arsenal's part-time goalkeeper, I guess. Fourth place in the EPL and a disappointing Champions League finish, it is!
In all seriousness, if Buffon, still
easily one of the best in the game today despite officially entering his late-30s, can't make the cut, you can't take something like this with any kind of validity anymore. Do the other Juventus players deserve to be on there? Well, yeah, probably. There can be a case made for each of them, even those who didn't have seasons that matched up to those of the past.
But for Buffon — and let's not forget about the season Bonucci is coming off of, too — to be left out is something that makes you just shake your head for seconds on end. You look at all the other keepers on the shortlist and it's not like Buffon is any less than them. Are they great in their own way? Of course. But Buffon is still the gold standard. He is, for all intents and purposes, the best of the bunch. Facts are facts. (Even if this author is just a somewhat bit biased when it comes to this subject.)
That's cool, though. I think Buffon is pretty okay when it comes to winning trophies and hardware these days.
At least we know how good Buffon still is these days even if FIFA doesn't. Cue the laugh track, too, while you're at it.