Not only did Monday night mark the presentation of the prestigious Ballon D’Or but the new World XI was also named. Most notably, the team once again didn’t contain a single Premier League player for the second consecutive year. Many people might draw the conclusion that, considering that the 2009 selection was predominantly made up of players plying their trades in this country, the Premier League is no longer what it once was and that it may have lost some of its sparkle.
Whilst the lack of Premier League players receiving world honours is disappointing, it wouldn’t be fair to suggest that this is due to the standards of the league dropping. Make no mistake, the Premier League is still an incredibly strong league and there are some truly outstanding players playing in it. I’m not going to argue whether or not it’s the best league in the world as many people describe it, as that’s impossible to prove. What’s certain though is that it’s still a good league and one which most players, including the very best, want to play in at some point in their careers.
The fact that none of the players in the World XI play in it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. The eleven players selected for the World XI are purely the best of the best and I find it difficult to dispute the place of any one of them as they’re all great players. Unfortunately, none of them play in our league. However, in previous years (such as 2009), many of them did. That year six of eleven players were from our top flight; John Terry, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Steven Gerrard, Cristiano Ronaldo (in the year he left Manchester United) and Fernando Torres (then at Liverpool). Therefore, it’s difficult to read much into this.
Football changes dramatically year on year, those that make it into the World XI have had an exceptional year and are (at the moment at least) the best out there. However, in twelve months time some of them might not be and a Premier League player (or two, or three) might take their place(s). Again, just because last year’s team was an all La Liga line-up, this doesn’t mean that players in other leagues (including the Premier League) weren’t good enough or somehow their leagues weren’t up to scratch. Otherwise you wouldn’t suddenly see players representing the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 being chosen the following year. Next year it could be the Premier League which returns.
In fact, there are some Premier League players who can consider themselves unfortunate to have not been selected. Luis Suarez would have probably got in ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic if it weren’t for his infamous biting incident and subsequent lengthy ban. Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure are both having fantastic seasons and if Manchester City win their second Premier League title (which they’re heavily fancied to do) it will be largely down to their contributions. So it’s not as if the Premier League is without talent and if those players I just mentioned (and a few others) continue their current form and also shine at the World Cup, we might just be talking about next year’s World XI featuring several Premier League players. Just like in 2009.