I consider Messi out of the competition because he is a genius and geniuses eat at a separate table. But the Ballon d’Or is coming and it is legitimate to place bets and choose the candidates based on effectiveness (which is measurable) and taste (which is capricious). It is a trophy that has been gaining glamour, which is why it needs the strength of the impact that fame gives. From that bright place, Mbappé or Haaland, big names that adorn any stage, play with an advantage. Among his credentials is the devastating force of goals, with their indisputable value and fascinating appeal.

But this year a figure emerged into celebrity that forced us to look back. It’s about Rodri and his influence is noticeable when he plays and also when he doesn’t play. From his very appearance he was a substantial player, but now he reached the level of determinant. City is a sophisticated collective machine that produces quality football. Great coach, great players, great results. It says something in favor of my candidate that City has lost the three games in which Rodri was suspended in the Premier. The three results were a powerful indicator. In the City game nothing was more visible than the absence of Rodri. That seemed like a debate without a moderator, a crossroads without a traffic light, a team, in short, without Rodri. For many years we have had to lament the invisibility of Busquets, surely because intelligence is more difficult to see than any other virtue and the central circle is less transcendent than the areas, but depending on what for.

If we talk about playing soccer, the center midfielder is the axis that proposes the rhythm, direction and intention of the game. It is impossible to play well if that central link does not know the secrets of the game, if the ball he receives does not leave his feet better and if the next teammate does not receive it with time and space. Rodri always had judgment, which is a kind of logic that cleanses the game of impurities every time the ball passes through his feet. But he improved until he did better than anyone else what everyone else does and did things that no one else is capable of doing in that position. He has presence, intelligence, the use of deception to win a second and an architectural talent to always be where he should. A strategist who has achieved such a command of the game that he already intervenes relaxed and with the smug air of someone who knows everything. There is no play that does not look for it; There is no free space, near or far, that I do not discover; There is no party, big or small, in which his category does not appear.

He is a scout who is always where he needs to be to help when it comes to recovering the ball or to partner when it comes to keeping it or threatening it. His field of action, like his influence on the game, has only grown and now has influence in both areas and in both footballs: the one that is played low and the one that is played high. In very important matches (Bayer, Inter) he scored decisive goals. A forceful way of saying: “here I am.” Only in this way will he ensure that Busquets doesn’t happen to him.

At the height of his career, Spain has a superior talent capable of powering an entire team. Of course the goals are shocking, but games have a beginning, middle and end and, of that, no one knows more than Rodri. Maybe, for once, intelligence wins over emotion and we see Rodri rightly lift the Ballon d’Or. Football would be dignified.

You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes in Facebook y Xclick here to receive our weekly newsletter.

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits



By Jane Austen

Jane Austen is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.