How do you emphasise the fact you’re not really interested in the Ballon d’Or award?
If you’re Arsene Wenger, you congratulate one of your players on being nominated, even though he’s not made the shortlist.
To give some context, the boss didn’t go out of his way to praise the German playmaker, he was instead pressed into making a statement by a journalist who ignorantly believed that Ozil had been included on France Football’s 30-man list.
Here’s how the conversation went down…
You’ve said in the past you’re not a fan of the Ballon d’Or…
No. That has not changed.
I didn’t think it would have…but what’s your reaction to Mesut being among the thirty candidates?
Certainly there is a big satisfaction for [Ozil] and for us as well, but I am against it because I think it gets in the head of players. We have seen many people only thinking about themselves because they are obsessed by Ballon d’Or and not by the team performance and I believe football is a collective sport and we live already in a world where everything is individualised. We want to respect what football is about, first about the team effort.
Do you not even mention it then? Would you not go and say ‘well done Mesut’…
Of course, I encourage and congratulate the players who do well and I’m happy for that. But when you look at the history you do not always think that it has been the most objective decision always and I think that the players who are the best, we know very well about them. Let’s take care of those who are not as much in the glory. The best – we know all about them.
FIFA are no longer working with France Football on the award, does that change maybe reduce the importance of the Ballon d’Or prize?
I don’t know.
Obviously, it’s somewhat farcical that Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez missed out on making the 30-man shortlist. On the plus side for the boss, it does give him some leverage to barter down their new contract demands…
“Didn’t make the Ballon d’Or list lads? That’s another £5K a week off if you ask me…”