The Belgium coach hailed the Germany international as ‘the complete goalkeeper’ and feels he should be awarded the accolade ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
Marc Wilmots believes Manuel Neuer deserves to be awarded the Ballon d’Or following his successes with Bayern Munich and Germany.
Along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the 27-year-old keeper has been nominated as one of the final three candidates for the Fifa award having won the Bundesliga and the World Cup in 2014.
Calling for a change from the norm, the Belgium coach suggested it is time for a keeper to earn the award rather than a goalscorer, and Neuer is the stand-out option.
“I initially voted for Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer and Thibaut Courtois, so for me it’s Neuer,” Wilmots said in an interview with Fifa.com.
“He’s the complete goalkeeper and, as far as I’m concerned, the best in the world. He had a perfect season, nearly won everything, and he’s consistent while making lots of progress.
“In addition to what he did with Bayern, he led Germany to the world title. So I think that, over the past year, we should reward a player who stopped goals, rather than the usual choice of going for players who scored them.”
Wilmots did admit that he was impressed by the feats of Ronaldo and Messi, but that fans have grown accustomed to their exceptional displays on the pitch.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest professionals on the planet, and he puts away 40 goals every season. The problem is that you almost grow used to it,” he added.
“Messi had a more difficult year due to injuries, although he still reached the World Cup Final. You get the feeling that they’ve been on a whole different planet for several years.
“But, that said, Manuel Neuer also has a superb track record in terms of statistics.”
When asked whether Belgium international Eden Hazard could contend for the award in the future, the 45-year-old suggested that the Chelsea man must first find a cutting edge in front of goal.
“Eden is progressing at an excellent rate for the moment, and I hope he is ambitious to reach that level. He just needs to be more clinical and improve his finishing,” Wilmots said.
“He showed at Lille that he could score 20-odd goals a season, and that’s where he needs to improve in order to help his team out at key moments.
“Eden is still young – he’s 23 and he has lots of ambition, which is good. I wish him all the best with it.”