France Football editor apologises to Andres Iniesta for never awarding him the Ballon d'Or
Andres Iniesta is approaching the end at Barcelona. He'll leave the Catalan club at the end of the season and, in the coming days, is expected to announce a move to China.
Quite rightly, the plaudits are coming thick and fast – Iniesta is one of the great European players of any era.
Pascal Ferre, editor of France Football, has weighed in too, using an op-ed piece in the weekly magazine to apologise to Iniesta for having deprived him of the Ballon d'Or. The magazine has presented the award since its inception in 1956, when England's Stanley Matthews scooped the prize.
"Forgive us, Andres," wrote Ferre. "For us, he wasn’t just a player, he was the player. His sacrifices for the team ultimately deprived him of greater individual recognition.
"Of all the absences on the list of Ballon d’Or winners, his is particularly painful. We can only hope he has a special campaign at the World Cup in Russia and repair this democratic anomaly.
"He is the best facilitator of play of all time," said Ferre. "The majority of his contemporaries make their lives complicated, but he has enjoyed himself on the pitch for 15 years, making everything simple. Without any vanity, he only thinks about bringing the play to life."
On first glance, it does look like an oversight. For Iniesta to have occupied the place he has in the game and not have a Ballon d'Or on his mantel seems unfair, but consider the history of the award over the past decade: nobody other than Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi has won it since 2008 (Kaka went before them in 2007).
Iniesta has been a fabulous player and has the medal collection to testify to his greatness, but was he ever the very best player in the world? More likely, he's just another outstanding footballer who had the misfortune to play in this particular era.