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Why Messi deserved a record fifth Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi accepts the 2016 Ballon d'Or, his fifth. Getty Images
Lionel Messi accepts the 2015 Ballon d’Or, his fifth. Getty Images

Lionel Messi has claimed his fifth Ballon d’Or award, edging out Neymar Jr and Cristiano Ronaldo in the process. The 28-year-old playmaker was nominated the bonafide best footballer in the world ahead of his Barcelona teammate and the Real Madrid forward at FIFA gala in Zurich.

Messi received the most votes from a panel of national team coaches, captains and a selection of the global sports media.

The Barcelona genius first won the award in 2009, and went on to win it three more years in a row – in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Ronaldo then came to the fore and won the Ballon d’Or the next two years. However, Messi’s irresistible form could not be denied, winning the title a record fifth time for his exploits last year.

Here are some stats that show how crucial the Argentine was for Barcelona last year, when they won the Treble.

Graphic courtesy:
Graphic courtesy:

Messi helped the Catalans to their fifth UEFA Champions League, 23rd La Liga and 27th Copa del Rey titles. As a result, Barcelona became the first team to do the lift the Treble for a second time, the first being the 2009 campaign.

In 2015, Messi scored 34 La Liga goals in 33 games; in the Champions League, he pumped in five from nine. On average, the Argentine has scored every 80 minutes in La Liga and every 162 minutes in the Champions League.

If one combines goals and assists, Messi’s contributions have led to a Barcelona goal every 61 minutes. In comparison, Ronaldo made a goal every 64 minutes, while Neymar averaged 83 minutes.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also made 19 assists in 2015.  two more than Ronaldo and five more than Neymar. He made 2,008 successful passes, more than Neymar (1,919) and Ronaldo (1,262).

Messi also outperformed his Ballon d’Or competitors in dribbles made. He completed 226 successful dribbles, while Neymar finished 196 and Ronaldo 66.

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