Bale joins Messi and Ronaldo on Ballon d'Or shortlist
No Englishmen feature on the 23-man shortlist for Fifa's footballer of the year award
THE annual ding-dong between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to be crowned footballer of the year is underway once again after the 23-man shortlist for the Fifa Ballon d'Or was unveiled.
Messi has won the award for the past four years, with Ronaldo runner-up on three occasions. In 2008, when the Fifa World Player of the Year and Ballon d'Or were separate awards, Ronaldo scooped both titles and Messi came second.
Among the 21 players destined to be also-rans in this year's race are Ronaldo's Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale, the only British player on the list, and five Premier League stars: Eden Hazard of Chelsea, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, Yaya Toure of Manchester City and Manchester United's Robin van Persie. The winner will be announced on 13 January.
The Times notes that there are no English players on the list. "After managing a single nomination in Fifa's Ballon d'Or award in each of the last two years, English football was today left on the outside looking in," lamented the paper. Wayne Rooney who had "kept the flag of St George flying" has failed to make the cut this time.
Former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson is included in the coach of the year nominations, along with Arsene Wenger and four men who have managed Chelsea: Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Ballon d'Or nominees
Gareth Bale (Wales), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay), Radamel Falcao (Colombia), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Mueller (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Franck Ribery (France), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Luis Suarez (Uruguay), Thiago Silva (Brazil), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Robin Van Persie (Netherlands), Xavi (Spain).
Coach of the year nominees
Carlo Ancelotti (Italy, Paris Saint-Germain/Real Madrid), Rafael Benitez (Spain, Chelsea/Napoli), Antonio Conte (Italy, Juventus), Vicente Del Bosque (Spain, Spain national team), Alex Ferguson (Scotland, Manchester United, retired), Jupp Heynckes (Germany, Bayern Munich, retired), Juergen Klopp (Germany, Borussia Dortmund), Jose Mourinho (Portugal, Real Madrid/Chelsea), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil, Brazil national team), Arsene Wenger (France, Arsenal). ·