Cristiano Ronaldo, last year’s winner of the biggest individual honour in football, heads a list of 23 footballers in contention to win the award for 2014.
While the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, Lahm, Ibrahimovic, Mascherano and Bale are all present, the absence of Luis Suarez seems an interesting and glaring omission – perhaps further punishment for biting Giorgio Chiellini in Brazil – considering he was the Premier League’s Player of the Year and joint-winner of the European Golden Shoe alongside Ronaldo.
Two goalkeepers have made the list this year, with German and Bayern Munich ‘keeper Manuel Neuer in contention alongside Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Chelsea, while Paul Pogba has also made the final 23.
The selection of Andres Iniesta raises a few eyebrows however, as the Barcelona midfielder has been in indifferent form for the last twelve months and was part of a Spain side that self-combusted at the World Cup, and perhaps furthers the case that the shortlist is picked as much on reputation as it is on ability and performance. Yaya Toure’s average performances since the end of last season also seem to have been ignored, and like last year there will no doubt be plenty of articles questioning the prestige of the award since its amalgamation with FIFA’s World Player of the Year.
Six Germans make the list and are the most represented nation, with Mario Götze, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger joining Neuer.
Along with Suarez, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin can feel aggrieved at having been overlooked, as can his teammates Koke and Gabi, former-Roma now-Bayern centre-back Medhi Benatia, and Barca’s new midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
Stay tuned for The Blog FC Alternate Shortlist in the coming weeks.
Shortlist in full:
Gareth Bale (Wales, Real Madrid)
Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid)
Diego Costa (Spain, Atletico Madrid/Chelsea)
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium, Atletico Madrid/Chelsea)
Angel Di Maria (Argentina, Real Madrid/Manchester United)
Mario Götze (Germany, Bayern Munich)
Eden Hazard (Belgium, Chelsea)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Paris Saint-Germain)
Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona)
Toni Kroos (Germany, Bayern Munich/Real Madrid)
Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich)
Javier Mascherano (Argentina, Barcelona)
Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona)
Thomas Müller (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, AS Monaco/Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid)
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich)
Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Manchester City)