Courtois Should Be Considered For The Ballon D'Or

He might have been miles away from winning the Ballon D'Or, but Tim Stannard believes that there haven't been many players more impressive in 2013 than Thibaut Courtois...

Last Updated: 31/12/13 at 11:32 Post Comment

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Of course, it may be true that a tradition cannot be built up over just two years. So what can be claimed then, is that this column began a mere tendency of going against the grain of the normal runners and riders for the Ballon d'Or nonsense and coming up with an outside alternative. It's a bit like Channel 4 rummaging around to find an opposing figure for the Queen's speech that will upset and outrage as many Daily Mail readers as feasibly possible.

Twelve months ago, the figure of Michu was thrown up before the world - a ragtag footballer whose bustling efforts had produced incredible results for both Rayo Vallecano and Swansea. Whilst the attacker was clearly not on the same universal plane of Leo Messi and friends, the player arguably contributed just as much to his team in terms of a complex and completely made-up formula involving cost vs. quality of teammates vs. results.

Basically, the nomination was an ode to the most American idea of having a Most Valuable Player award after a game or season - somebody who can turn zeroes into heroes, irrespective of the idea that there are others who are superior in terms of talent. This year, the nomination clearly fits the MVP profile in having a huge role in a dramatic turnaround for his club but can also squeeze into the Ballon d'Or debate for being at the top of the tree in his particular position.

Thibaut Courtois has had an outstanding 2013 for both Atlético Madrid and for his country. The goalkeeper, currently at the Vicente Calderón on a loan deal from Chelsea, has been a pivotal figure in the emergence of the Rojiblancos as genuine contenders for both the La Liga and Champions League titles and, as the number one for Belgium, will be one of the hottest properties at next summer's World Cup. Few footballers can claim to have had such a double whammy in the past 12 months.

The 21-year-old, playing in front of an admirably secure defence and midfield, conceded just 31 league goals for his club last season, a record just as crucial to the third-placed finish for Atlético as the goals scored by Radomal Falcao. "He's the best goalkeeper in the world," declared the striker, now in exile with Monaco.

The same principle applies in the current campaign, with Courtois behind Atleti's record of conceding just 11 in 17 matches, ten less than third-placed Real Madrid. The level-headed Belgian is part of a symbiosis across the team's backline that feeds off each other's confidence. Courtois has no major flaws to his game - the only mistakes made are those that any human comes up with from time to time.

Whilst 2013 was exceptional, the year to come could be something even more special. There are high hopes of a good World Cup run for Belgium, with the same possibility for Atlético Madrid at home and abroad - to be even considered as potential winners in both competitions is incredible for a side in the wilderness for so long.

The only person who knows what Courtois will be doing in 12 months' time is José Mourinho, with Chelsea having a contract with the player until 2016. "He's the best young goalkeeper in the world," Jose claimed after watching Courtois lift the Copa del Rey last season, in the Santiago Bernabéu against his Real Madrid side.The problem for Courtois is that Mourinho still feels that Petr Cech is the best goalkeeper in the world, full stop. For this reason, Barcelona have reportedly been sniffing around for a replacement for the departing Víctor Valdés.

Whilst Courtois is miles away from the various podiums at the player of the year awards with big name attacking players still dominating the scene, it cannot be too long before the Belgian is amongst the runners and riders. Few footballers on the planet have changed the fate of the teams he has played in over the past 12 months. Even fewer have the capacity and talent to repeat that feat in 2014.

Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter

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