When Johan Cruyff speaks the world listens. At least that's what the word on the street is. He's one of the few figures in global soccer who is held in the highest esteem by virtually everyone.
So when Johan Cruyff says that the FIFA Ballon d'Or should be won by a World Cup winner, you should take note. In an interview yesterday, Cruyff said "I would vote for a German player in the Ballon d'Or ballot." That leaves 5 names for Bayern Munich, as 6 squad members were shortlisted for the award.
Cruyff went on to specifically call out Philipp Lahm, saying "Lahm perhaps isn't as noticeable but he can play in almost any position." While not a world beater of a quote in terms of praise, the idea of versatility isn't one that usually prized when a Ballon d'Or winner is chosen (re: goals), but it's one of the most valuable skills in soccer and the great himself knows it.
However, Cruyff saved his more vocal praise for Manuel Neuer, saying "He has been outstanding. [Manuel] Neuer is an extraordinary goalkeeper, who would deserve to win it too." Again, not a world beater of a quote by any stretch of the imagination, but it's the source that counts. In Neuer's case, it may be enough to put him over the top. He's been the best goalkeeper on the planet for the last several seasons and if ever there was a year where his combined accolades deserved to unseat the borderline tyrannical reign of Messi/Ronaldo, this is the year.
Here's hoping enough people sat up and paid attention to Cruyff this week.