In Brief

Ballon d'Or: Ronaldo a shoo-in as Suarez and Ribery left out

Spain and Germany dominate shortlist with no English or Italian players and Ronaldo odds-on to win

The shortlist for the Fifa Ballon d'Or award has been released, and once again there are no English players among the 23 stars vying for the title of the world's greatest footballer.

The lack of English players may not come as a surprise, but equally worrying is the lack of British-based players. Only five of the 23 ply their trade in the Premier League, and only two of them were playing in England last season.

Three of the five – Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard – play for Chelsea. The others are Angel di Maria of Manchester United and Manchester City's captain Yaya Toure.

Welsh winger Gareth Bale is included in the list for the second year running after an impressive debut season for Real Madrid.

Germany has the most nominees with six members of its World Cup-winning squad on the list. The list also includes three members of the team they beat, Argentina, and another three from Spain, despite their awful campaign.

Almost half of the nominated players, 10, currently play in Spain, and 13 have played in Spain at some point this year. Six of the 23 are Real Madrid players and six play in Germany, all of them for Bayern Munich.

The list may be dominated by Spanish and German teams and players but England has fared better than Italy. There are no Italians on the list and only one player from Serie A, Paul Pogba of Juventus.

Notably absent from the list are Luis Suarez, who only returned to action last weekend after his ban for biting, and Franck Ribery, who was third in the voting last year.

In reality the winner will, yet again, be either last year's winner Cristiano Ronaldo or the man who won the previous three awards, Lionel Messi. But Argentine Messi had a relatively subdued season and Ronaldo has already been installed as massive odds-on favourite and seems certain to retain his title.

Ballon d'Or shortlist:

Gareth Bale, Wales, Real Madrid

Karim Benzema, France, Real Madrid

Diego Costa, Spain, Chelsea

Thibaut Courtois, Belgium, Chelsea

Angel di Maria, Argentina, Manchester United

Mario Gotze, Germany, Bayern Munich

Eden Hazard, Belgium, Chelsea

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden, Paris Saint-Germain

Andres Iniesta, Spain, Barcelona

Toni Kroos, Germany, Real Madrid

Philipp Lahm, Germany, Bayern Munich

Javier Mascherano, Argentina, Barcelona

Lionel Messi, Argentina, Barcelona

Thomas Muller, Germany, Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer, Germany, Bayern Munich

Neymar, Brazil, Barcelona

Paul Pogba, France, Juventus

Sergio Ramos, Spain, Real Madrid

Arjen Robben, Netherlands, Bayern Munich

James Rodriguez, Colombia, Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal, Real Madrid

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany, Bayern Munich

Yaya Toure, Ivory Coast, Manchester City

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