- Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo is not considered to be one of the 10 best players in his position, according to a new ranking.
- Prominent think tank CIES Football Observatory says Ronaldo has not been as optimal as the players featured in its list based on domestic form throughout the season.
- Sergio Agüero, Robert Lewandowski, and Ciro Immobile are the three best performing centre forwards competing in Europe's big-5 leagues today.
Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo may have won the Ballon d'Or this month — the annual prize awarded to the player of the year in football — but he has failed to make the cut in a leading think tank's ranking of the best-performing players this season.
The Football Observatory, a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) in Switzerland, argues that Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero, Bayern Munich goalscorer Robert Lewandowski, and Lazio forward Ciro Immobile are the three most in-form centre forwards in world football today.
According to a research note, the Football Observatory evaluates player performance by focusing on "technical gestures." For players in Ronaldo's position, attributes like taking on an opponent, creating chances, and shooting were all assessed, amongst other skills.
The algorithm only focuses on domestic football in the "big 5" leagues (England's Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A, and France's Ligue 1), meaning Champions League and Europa League football were not included.
City striker Agüero headed up the Football Observatory's top 10 list.
In 11 Premier League appearances, Agüero has created 19 chances, provided three assists for his teammates, and scored nine goals himself. He has also been responsible for scoring or creating a goal once for every 72 minutes he has been on a Premier League pitch.
Here is the Football Observatory's top 10 list of centre forwards.CIES Football Observatory
So why didn't Ronaldo make the cut?
"According to our algorithm Ronaldo was only the 12th best centre forward in the big 5 so far this season, and second in Spain after Rodrigo (but ahead of Suárez)," Dr Raffaele Poli, who heads the Football Observatory, told Business Insider.
Though Ronaldo helped Real Madrid dominate its Champions League group by scoring nine goals, he has failed to replicate that prolificacy in La Liga.
In Spain's top division, Ronaldo has created 19 chances, like Agüero, but has struggled to make as big an impact as the City striker when it comes to affecting the scoreline and winning games. He has scored four goals and provided just two assists for his teammates.
This means Ronaldo has only been responsible for scoring or creating a goal once for every 162 minutes he has been on a La Liga pitch.
"Ronaldo is still outstanding but his main skill is shooting and before this weekend he scored only twice in the domestic league (only domestic league matches were assessed)," Poli said. "Efficiency was by far not optimal and lower than for higher-ranked players."
Poli added that the Football Observatory also looked at results achieved when on the pitch. "Here, too, you had only 60% of wins (six out 10) and only three wins with more than one goal gap (again not really efficient as opponents were not top level clubs)," he said.
Real Madrid is currently in Dubai as it prepares to compete in the Club World Cup. The team's first game is a semi-final against Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira on Wednesday.