It’s not the most scientific, structured or comprehensive formula, but below are the scribblings and research of an obsessive trying to work out who is the best footballer on the planet.
Those deserving of inclusion in the ‘Talking Sport’ alternative to the Ballon d’Or are Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski and Premier League pair Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero of Liverpool and Manchester City respectively.
Unfortunately, funding wasn’t available to organise a lavish ceremony befitting of such global phenomenons, nor could I taxi the nominees to the Burnley Express office in the company’s Vauxhall Astra, but I can assure you that each was willing to attend should such an event have taken place.
Many of you, even at this stage, may be questioning the omission of Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery but, if you’re willing to read on until the end, all will be revealed.
As we all know, Ronaldo was the recipient of the authenticated award at a star-studded Fifa Awards Ceremony in Switzerland in the middle of January, finally ending the reign of rival Messi, who had held the accolade since 2009.
The award is voted for by national team coaches, national team captains and a selection of journalists from around the world, chosen by both France Football magazine and FIFA.
Ronaldo won the prize with 27.99 per cent of the votes ahead of Messi (24.72 per cent) with Ribery in third having accumulated 23.36 per cent of the voting.
Anyway, on to more pressing and prestigious matters. This award takes on an equation of league minutes played, goals scored, assists and individual contribution, while also taking in to account the impact had on any club’s achievement to date.
That extravagant mix of percentages, statistics and mathematics, has Suarez down in fifth place. The Liverpool striker has totaled 2,258 minutes this term across the Premier League and FA Cup, but was obviously at a disadvantage with the Reds not being involved in European competition.
In that time frame, the Uruguayan international, who can also add eight goals and a solitary assist in 13 appearances for his country to his domestic tally, has netted 24 times and added 11 assists.
That number means Suarez has contributed to 44.9 per cent of Liverpool’s 78 goals in the aforementioned domestic competitions, contributing every 64.5 minutes of games.
Next up, and consequently finishing in fourth place, is Polish marksman Lewandowski.
Though he contributes less prolifically than Suarez - every 96 minutes while contributing to 40.5 per cent of Dortmund’s goals - the 25-year-old, with 22 goals and eight assists in 2,882 domestic minutes, has been prevalent in a season where Dortmund have reached the semi-final of the DFB Pokal and are on the cusp of a Champions League quarter-final place.
My decision for third place is a contentious one, but having digested the results both diligently and studiously I’m willing to risk the controversy.
Third place is Aguero. Unbelievably the Argentinian has only completed seven matches in all competitions this season, including four league games, but despite an injury-ravaged campaign, his contribution has been vital.
Of City’s 99 goals in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, Aguero has scored 25 and assisted seven, which serves up a 32.3 per cent contribution. Of the 1,681 minutes he’s played, he’s made or scored a goal himself every 37.1 minutes.
That impact has propelled City into title contention, where a win in their game in hand would see them leapfrog Arsenal and Chelsea in the hierarchy, in addition to an FA Cup quarter-final place. While Barca look favourites to advance in the Champions League, City kept a potential treble alight when beating Sunderland in the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday.
Okay, so before I go on, I’ll explain the Ribery situation. While Munich harbour a group of outstanding individuals, including the Frenchman, I think the team as a whole stands out as the best in the world.
Ribery has been an integral component as the German giants vie for a Bundesliga, Champions League and domestic cup treble, but he’s not been alone.
In the league Mario Mandzukic has netted 14 times, Arjen Robben has added 10 alongside Thomas Muller while Ribery is on seven. Ribery tops the assists charts with eight, but Muller is just behind with seven while Mario Gotze and Rafinha both have five.
In both Europe and the DFB Pokal, Muller heads the charts with four and six goals respectively, while assists have been shared out between Robben, Philipp Lahm, Dante, Toni Kroos, Ribery, Gotze and Xherdan Shaqiri in those competitions.
In fact, that spread means Ribery has only contributed to around a fifth of Munich’s 96 goals.
So that leaves a top two, and this really could’ve gone either way. For me, merely based on the statistics and overall team contribution, I’m going against FIFA’s selection by sticking Ronaldo in second.
The Portuguese international has been sensational for club and country, helping Paulo Bento’s side negotiate a tricky World Cup play-off against Sweden by scoring a hat-trick in order to secure a berth at Brazil 2014.
Madrid’s 6-1 thumping away at Schalke in the Champions League - where Ronaldo netted twice - has all but guaranteed them a place in the quarter-final of the tournament and, on top of heading La Liga with 12 games remaining, they face rivals Barcelona in the final of the Copa Del Rey in April.
In total, Ronaldo has played 3,018 minutes in those competitions, scoring 37 goals and assisting nine others for his team-mates.
That means of 106 goals scored, the jewel in Madrid’s crown has contributed to 43.4 per cent of those and made his mark every 65.6 minutes.
However that’s nothing compared to Messi who, despite being sidelined for a chunk of the campaign, has manufactured simply incredible statistics. Much of the Catalonian’s success - second in La Liga, reaching the final of the Copa Del Rey and being within touching distance of the Champions League quarter-final stages - is owed to this man and you’re about to see why.
Messi has played 2,250 minutes in that trio of competitions this term, scoring 27 goals and assisting 51 of FC Barcelona’s 117 scored. That amounts to a 66.7 per cent contribution to his side’s goals scored, with the Argentinian striking every 28.8 minutes to either net himself, or make a goal for the reigning Spanish champions. That is simply outstanding!