Monday, December 3, 2007

"Made in Lisbon, Delivered in Manchester": C. Ronaldo

For the record, I couldn't care less that Kaka just won the 2007 Ballon D'Or and the FIFPro World Player of the Year and the UEFA European Club Player of the Year and will probably win the FIFA World Player of the Year when it is announced later this month. These are nice awards, don't get me wrong, but the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo, hands down, no doubt about it. Ronaldo is the finest player in the world's finest league and any discussion about who should win awards like these should start and end with him.

Manchester United's 22-year old Portuguese winger played for Sporting Lisbon before joining the Red Devils in 2003 and has blossomed from that point on. The scary thing is that he hasn't even realized his unbelievable potential as a player yet, although you wouldn't necessarily know it if you watched him play for Portugal or Man U.

Two more goals today propelled the Red Devils to a 2-0 victory over Fulham at Old Trafford, giving Ronaldo 6 goals in 9 league games from midfield already this year, and he has 11 tallies in 15 games in all competitions. Last season was a breakout year for the Portuguese star as he rang up 23 goals and 20 assists in 49 matches (all competitions), and he bagged 12 more goals in 2005-2006.

Forget the stats for a minute though and think about the things you can't measure. Ronaldo has great pace and is very nearly as adept with his left foot as he is with his right, enabling him to play on either wing and benefit from the free role he's given with United. He's the best player on the ball in the world with his dribbling prowess; a simple YouTube search will provide highlight videos of him going past opponents with an array of moves, the double and even triple-scissors chief amongst them. He's as good of a passer as there is as well, both through balls and crossing, and is United's free-kick taker whenever it is within shooting range.

I'm not trying to take anything away from Kaka or Ronaldinho or Lionel Messi; each of those players is fantastic in their own right. The sky is the limit for Ronaldo though and he can do things with the ball that no one else can. His good looks have obviously made him a marketing godsend for United. We've seen it at times this season and last when Ronaldo has been either suspended or just coming back from international duty: When he isn't in the lineup, Manchester United are a completely different team and they don't have that flair and spark and energy that they do when he's playing.

Kaka, you can take all your awards and the awards you'll inevitably win in the future. The people who vote for them are incredibly biased towards Brazilians and tend to look mainly at what players do in the Champions League. For me, however, if I had to build a team from scratch, I'll take Ronaldo over anyone else in the world, including Kaka, every single time.


tyduffy said...

I still think that Kaka deserved it. C. Ronaldo may end up being the best player when it is all said and done, but Kaka almost single-handedly won the Champions League.

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