The Ballon d’Or has caused some controversy in recent years with glaring omissions from shortlists and teams of the year, as well as some bizarre voting patterns and preferential treatment by coaches or players involved in the voting process. So, to try and bring some credibility back to football’s individual honours, we have created The Blog d’Or, where the writers of The Blog FC have whittled down a 50-man longlist to countdown the real best 23 players of the calendar year. The countdown continues here.
The Blog d’Or #16
Monaco & Real Madrid
With THAT goal, James Rodriguez heralded his arrival on the world stage like so few had done before. A Brazilian World Cup that promised the most beautiful of the beautiful game, duly delivering.
Yet it was not the hosts, so long the purveyors of joga bonito, but a 22-year-old Colombian and his dancing compatriots that transfixed the world. A bolt from the blue and a new star was born. In reality, it was merely the next logical step in a young career that for years had long been telegraphed for greatness.
James’ 2014 started as one of Monaco’s big-ticket stars. Having moved from Porto for €45m, his pedigree as one of the world’s best young players was already established. He ended his debut season in the Star Ligue 1 XI and the league’s assist leader, having helped secure Champions League football.
He had been a key figure in helping Colombia qualify for their first World Cup in 16 years and in June, fulfilled the nation’s hopes in sensational fashion. Five goals, two assists and three Man of the Match awards in four games, including the goal against Uruguay that would win FIFA’s Puskas Award, led Colombia to a date with destiny against Brazil.
Despite scoring a penalty, James was unable to inspire Columbia to a victory over their continental rivals and they bowed out at the quarter finals stage. Despite this, James won the competition’s Golden Boot (with six goals) and was named in the All-Star XI.
A quick courtship with Real Madrid followed and James became the world’s fourth most expensive player, joining the Spanish giants for a cool €80m.
With the support of a nation and in front of 45,000 fans, James was given the number 10 jersey.
He quickly adapted to life at the top, with ten goals and eight assists in his first 30 games for the club. He was influential in the club’s Spanish record 22-match winning streak, picking up the FIFA World Club Cup along the way.
Just this week he met up with Colombian legend, and his boyhood idol, Carlos Valderrama, and the photo op couldn’t come at a better time. The past and the present together: Colombia’s number 10 of the 1994 Golden Era alongside his heir apparent, ushering in a new one.