The 23 man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or has been released by FIFA.
The award is given to the best male footballer in a calender year as decided by a panel of journalists, coaches and captains.
Germany are the biggest contributors to the list with six players, followed by Spain and Argentina with three. France had two players, equalled by the golden generation of the international stage, Belgium.
Europe had four countries with a single player; Wales, Portugal, Netherlands and Sweden. South American football graced the list with Brazil and Colombia, while Cote d’Ivoire represented Africa.
The players nominated are Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Angel Di Maria (Manchester United), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
New Barcelona striker Luis Suarez is the notable vacancy from the list. The former Liverpool striker had a terrific season but the infamous bite incident involving Giorgio Chiellini at the Brazil World Cup soured Suarez’ chances of being named a contender. – Jake O’Brien
Top photo from Jan SOLO’s Flickr photostream.