FIFA bares 23-player shortlist for Ballon d’Or

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The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) released Wednesday the 23-player short list for this year’s Ballon d’Or Award.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the injured Lionel Messi, and Brazil’s Neymar lead the list of nominees for the coveted men’s player of the year honors.

The list will be trimmed to the last three contenders for the Ballon d’Or Award slated for November 30 with Barcelona’s Messi and Real Madrid’s Ronaldo almost a shoo-in for the final cut.

Ronaldo, who set a club scoring record with his 324th goal last October 17, is vying for a third straight world player of the year award. He will go head-to-head with his teammates Karim Benzema of France and Welshman Gareth Bale who together make up the Spanish side’s “BBC” frontline.

With Messi out because of a knee injury he sustained in late September, striker Neymar – who made it to the 23-player list for the fifth consecutive year, has taken over the field at Barcelona and is out to prove he has what it takes to finally be included in the three-player shortlist.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who was sanctioned with a 50,000-pound ($77,400) fine and a suspended one-match stadium ban by England’s Football Association last week, was included in the list of 10 nominees for World Coach of the Year.

The list was put together by the FIFA Football Committee alongside a group of experts from France Football. The Ballon d’Or and Coach of the Year awardees will be announced on January 11, 2016 in Zurich.

Argentina’s Messi and Portugal’s Ronaldo have shared the Ballon d’Or trophy among themselves since 2008. Messi has four while Ronaldo has three to his name, including the 2013 and 2014 awards.


Player shortlist:
Sergio Aguero (Argentina/Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Wales/Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/VfL Wolfsburg/Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Belgium/Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Paris Saint-Germain), Andrés Iniesta (Spain/FC Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Germany/Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/FC Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Argentina/FC Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Argentina/FC Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil/FC Barcelona), Paul Pogba (France/Juventus), Ivan Rakitic (Croatia/FC Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Netherlands/FC Bayern Munich), James Rodriguez (Colombia/Real Madrid), Alexis Sanchez (Chile/Arsenal), Luis Suarez (Uruguay/FC Barcelona), Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire/Manchester City), Arturo Vidal (Chile/Juventus/FC Bayern Munich).

Coach shortlist:
Massimiliano Allegri (Italy/Juventus), Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Real Madrid), Laurent Blanc (France/Paris Saint-Germain), Unai Emery (Spain/Sevilla FC), Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Luis Enrique Martínez (Spain/FC Barcelona), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Chelsea), Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina/Chilean national team), Diego Simeone (Argentina/Atlético Madrid), Arsene Wenger (France/Arsenal).

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