With their individual World Cup exploits taken into account, it should come as little surprise that England as a nation have absolutely no representation on this year’s Ballon d’Or shortlist, failing to provide a single player for inclusion on the 23-man list of nominees.
A negligible amount of tenuous pride can be taken from the fact that the Premier League itself has proffered a fairly miserly three players up for consideration (Cesc Fabregas, Didier Drogba and Sunderland’s Asamoah Gyan), but when you take into account that 11 of La Liga’s most prominent stars have also made the grade, the English-based contingent seems almost moot in comparison.
Seven members of Spain’s World Cup winning squad have been included on FIFA’s shortlist with Andres Iniesta (who lashed home La Roja‘s winning goal in the final, to see off those dastardly Dutch rogues back in July) headlining the group of Iberian nominees, along with his Barcelona team-mates Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol and the blaugrana‘s marquee summer signing David Villa.
The final three Spaniards being the aforementioned Fabregas, along with Real Madrid pair Iker Casillas and Xabi Alonso.
Barca are also represented on the list by their Argentine star Lionel Messi (the reigning Ballon d’Or winner and Fifa World Player of the Year, although the two awards have now been merged) and flying Brazilian right-back Daniel Alves, with Los Blancos duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil also getting the nod.
The ‘La Liga eleven’ is rounded off by Atletico Madrid’s tousled striker Diego Forlan, who was bestowed with the Golden Ball award in South Africa after notching five goals in Uruguay’s belief-beggaring run to the semi-finals.
Italian giants Inter Milan have seen the key exponents of their unprecedented Serie A, Coppa Italia, Champions League treble last season acknowledged with ‘keeper Julio Cesar, raiding full-back Maicon, Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder and auxiliary right winger (at the time) Samuel Eto’o all seen fit for nomination by FIFA.
Beaten Champions League finalists Bayern Munich also have five representatives (Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben), who all played major parts in their respective national teams World Cup campaigns.
The manager responsible for overseeing Inter’s impressive medal haul during 2009/10, Jose Mourinho, is also leading the list of nominees for FIFA’s inaugural ‘World Coach of the Year’ award, that will be announced during the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich on January 10th.
The Premier League has a relatively competitive showing in the managerial stakes with Chelsea’s Carlo Ancelotti, Manchester United veteran Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger occupying three of the 10 available slots – although it’s a fairly widespread assumption that it will be Snr. Mourinho that FIFA will bestowed with their newly established accolade as and when the time comes.
The deciding votes will be cast by the various captains and managers/head coaches of FIFA-recognised national teams, with extra votes afforded to representatives of the international media chosen by adjudicators France Football magazine.
World Player of the Year nominees (in alphabetical order):
- Xabi Alonso (Spain, Real Madrid)
- Daniel Alves (Brazil, Barcelona)
- Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid)
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid)
- Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea)
- Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, Inter Milan)
- Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Arsenal)
- Diego Forlan (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid)
- Asamoah Gyan (Ghana, Sunderland)
- Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona)
- Julio Cesar (Brazil, Inter Milan)
- Miroslav Klose (Germany, Bayern Munich)
- Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich)
- Maicon (Brazil, Inter Milan)
- Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona)
- Thomas Muller (Germany, Bayern Munich)
- Mesut Ozil (Germany, Real Madrid)
- Carles Puyol (Spain, Barcelona)
- Arjen Robben (Holland, Bayern Munich)
- Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich)
- Wesley Sneijder (Holland, Inter Milan)
- David Villa (Spain, Barcelona)
- Xavi (Spain, Barcelona)
World Coach of the Year nominees:
- Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea)
- Vicente del Bosque (Spain)
- Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
- Pep Guardiola (Barcelona)
- Joachim Low (Germany)
- José Mourinho (Inter Milan/now Real Madrid)
- Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay)
- Louis Van Gaal (Bayern Munich)
- Bert van Marwijk (Holland)
- Arsène Wenger (Arsenal)
The smart money seems to be on Andres Iniesta (a winning goal in a World Cup final will do that for you) for the player’s gong and Jose Mourinho to pick up with the managerial equivalent, but I’m going to plump for Wesley Sniejder and Vicente Del Bosque to walk away as winners.
Who would be your picks from the two shortlists?