No surprises, not in FIFA’s biggest award. Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or for 2012, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta behind to win his fourth consecutive award.

This isn’t proof that the voters are all about individual football. Some said that Cristiano Ronaldo deserved the award because he won the Spanish La Liga title this year, while Lionel Messi and Barcelona had to settle for the Copa Del Rey. Some said that Andres Iniesta need to win one for Spain because led the team to a second consecutive Euro and a third major trophy overall. Somewhat of a lifetime achievement award.

Eyes don’t lie, and there’s no need to not choose someone because he won it in the past. This isn’t a popularity award. This is an award for the best player in the world over the past year. Football isn’t a game of numbers like almost every other sport in the world, but sometimes, regardless of what you see on the pitch, the numbers do prevail.

Lionel Messi scored 50 league goals in 37 matches, 73 goals in all competitions, including leading the Champions League in scoring with a new record of 14 goals, and becoming the first to score five in one match. He added 12 goals in nine matches for Argentina while finishing 2012 with a new record of 91 goals over the entire year. The fact that Barcelona are cruising to another league title, 16 points ahead of Real Madrid, didn’t hurt.

Ronaldo supporters tried to sway to vote by saying this is about team trophies, but that’s just ignoring the truth, and going completely against what they said a year earlier. Andres Iniesta doesn’t really have a lobby – he’s just the alternative choice, and someone it’s hard to find an negative opinion about. But that’s all tricks and masks. Lionel Messi is the best player on the field every time he steps on the pitch, and he lives up to his potential and talent every time.

The whole Messi-Ronaldo will last forever, but when you ignore the noises in the background, it’s hard to come to a different decision – Lionel Messi, a four time Ballon d’Or winner, three times in its current version, is the best player in the world.