Who was the best soccer player in the world in 2014?
The Ballon d’Or award too often favors offensive players, high scorers, and World Cup winners.
FIFA, the ethically challenged arbiter of the world’s most popular sport, has proposed a short-list of three for the Ballon d’Or, the top individual accolade: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Manuel Neuer. Like most sports awards, fans are rooting for their favorites—but unlike many others, it’s hard to make a statistical case that one player is more valuable than another. That often makes the award merely a measure of prolific goal-scoring—but as any manager will tell you, that’s probably not enough to carry a successful soccer team. How can we improve?