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Van Persie omitted from Ballon d'Or shortlist

Wednesday 2nd November 2011
If you had to pick a team in the major European leagues that was relying heavily, almost exclusively on the form of one player at this moment in time, it would have to be Arsenal. Robin Van Persie has been in stunning form for the Gunners in 2011, scoring 28 times in 27 games, now leading from the front as captain after the departure of key players Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri this summer.
As we can see from this table released by the *Telegraph, in terms of goals per game ratio, Van Persie's goal scoring form this year places him second only to Cristiano Ronaldo who has found the net 33 times in 28 games and joint with Mario Gomez of Bayern Munich who has equalled Van Persie's 28 goals in 27 games.

Despite his blistering form, Van Persie was left off the 23 man shortlist announced by FIFA for this year's Ballon D'Or award. You could also argue that it is equally surprising that Gomez has been left out also whilst his Bayern teammates Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger made the cut. Whilst Gomez and Van Persie both have elite goal scoring statistics that puts them ahead of the likes of Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero; the Ballon D'Or shortlist is obviously not only down to how many goals a player scores.

Since his promotion to full time club captain after Fabregas' move back to Barcelona, Van Persie has been the standout performer in an otherwise below par start to the season for Arsene Wenger's side. 10 goals in the 10 Premier League games this campaign includes doubles against Bolton, Sunderland and Stoke, capped off with a hat-trick in the 5-3 thriller at Stamford Bridge last weekend against Chelsea.

With him in the side, Arsenal are climbing back up the Premier League table after a dismal start to the season and although they are still shaky at the back, Van Persie's goals have prevented that from causing them to lose even more points. Without Van Persie in the side, you question Arsenal's ability to win. In addition to his goals, his movement, his link up play and his leadership are all vital right now and his presence in the Arsenal side is more important than Ronaldo's in the Real Madrid side, Messi's in Barcelona's, Rooney's in the Manchester United line up and David Silva's in the Manchester City midfield.

Put simply, Van Persie's contribution to his team is probably more important than any other single player in the major European league's right now and when you look back at his play since the start of 2011 when he began his scoring run away at Birmingham City on New Year's Day, there haven't been many better. You'd expect that when the Ballon D'Or shortlist is trimmed down to the final three, there would have been no place for van Persie anyway with Messi and Ronaldo guaranteed to be in, with one other place left for the rest to scrap over. The 2011 he has had however should have made him one of the first names down on this 23 man list in my opinion and his exclusion is a mistake by FIFA.
David Hurst

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