The Atletico Madrid boss felt the prize should have gone to a member of France’s World Cup-winning side
Diego Simeone has congratulated Luka Modric for winning the Ballon d’Or but feels Antoine Griezmann or Raphael Varane should have claimed the prize.
Modric was named the recipient of France Football’s coveted trophy on Monday, ending a decade of dominance of the award by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Atletico Madrid star Griezmann came third in the standings, after which he admitted he felt he could do little more to win it, while France team-mate Varane was seventh.
Simeone said that playing for Atletico was perhaps a hindrance to Griezmann as the club lacks the same illustrious reputation as Real Madrid, but insisted he would have been a worthy winner.
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“Playing for Atleti makes it more difficult than the others because our history was of work, of redoubling our efforts to bring us closer to important places,” Simeone said.
“Instead, as he [Griezmann] has already said, he would be happy for what has happened this year. He was a world champion; that’s very difficult.
“Everyone can choose who he thinks is the most appropriate. We congratulate Modric; he had a very good season. For me, the best were Varane and Griezmann.”
Atletico face Sant Andreu in the second leg of the Copa del Rey last 32 on Wednesday, a match that striker Diego Costa will miss after agreeing to undergo foot surgery in Brazil.
Simeone hopes the Spain international returns fit and firing after playing in pain for some weeks.
“Diego has taken the decision to stop,” he said. “He was making a huge effort with difficulties and we needed him completely. I’m pleased because we’ll have a very important reinforcement for the end of the season.”
The Atletico coach also insisted he will not look to sign a replacement in January, adding: “We haven’t talked at all with the club and I look for solutions that bring us closer to continue competing. There are several options for that position. We’ll see who adapts best to what the team needs.”