Franck Ribery has pretty much done it all in football and over the years he’s been lauded as one of the greatest players in the world, always the bridesmaid and never the bride to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But when you think about it, has he ever really been world class?
In regards to his resumé, it’s quite hard to argue that the Frenchman isn’t. After years of bouncing around various clubs in France, that sound more like cuisines than teams, the forward finally found his place in Germany with Bayern Munich after a relatively successful tenure at Marseille.
Six Bundeligas and five DFB-Pokals later and here we are, with the now 33-year-old continuing to light up defences up and down Europe. You can add a World Cup runners-up medal as well as a host of individual honours to that, too. Just saying.
So, comes the decision of whether or not he has ever been world-class. There’s quite a few good arguments against this point, with the thought of his injuries and distinct lack of strength highlighting glaring issues that you can’t just gloss over with a couple trophies here and there.
Ribery has missed so much football over the last few years that nobody can really comment on his supposed prolonged quality, because it isn’t there. We’re trying to find it, but when someone is made of mikado sticks you start to question their legacy.
There’s no doubt that he fought to get where he is today, evident by his track record at previous clubs. But there is merit to the pace merchant idea that surrounds Ribery, with his bursts of acceleration and weaving runs echoing the feeling of getting a boost in a racing game. It’s short, impressive, but at the end of the day, it never really does much for the team.
He’s been utilised as a left-sided midfielder for years, but his positioning is chopped and changed so much that it’s hard to see where he excels above everything else. What is Ribery’s actual position. It’s hard enough to even decisively say midfielder or forward?! If he doesn’t have a defined role, which he hasn’t throughout his career, you can’t define him as a player.
Just take Arjen Robben as an example. Similar player, yet you can confidently say that the Dutchman is a forward. The cliche goes, ‘the stats don’t lie’, and they couldn’t be more telling when you compare the two Bayern Munich men. Robben has 118 strikes to his name in 228 games, compared to Ribery’s 108 in 330 matches.
For players, who play in ‘similar’ positions, Robben’s contribution is far more telling, and dismisses the discussion of Ribery being world-class… the Frenchman is simply not in the same league as the Dutchman.
So yes – Franck Ribery has done some remarkable things in the game, but world class? Not so much.