Bale, Ronaldo, Messi Top Ballon D'Or Shortlist, No English Players Make Cut
Real Madrid winger GARETH BALE joins LIONEL MESSI and CRISTIANO RONALDO among "leading contenders" for FIFA's Ballon d'Or award, according to SKY SPORTS. The 23-man shortlist for "the prestigious world player of the year award" was unveiled Tuesday, and the winner -- voted for by coaches, captains and journalists -- will be announced on Jan. 13. Bale faces tough competition from his Madrid teammate Ronaldo -- the winner in '08 -- and Barcelona forward Messi, who has won the last four years. Three Paris St. Germain players -- ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC, EDINSON CAVANI and THIAGO SILVA -- were on the shortlist. Fellow Ligue 1 big-spender Monaco has a contender of its own in RADAMEL FALCAO. Former ManU Manager ALEX FERGUSON "headlines a 10-man coach of the year shortlist" along with JOSE MOURINHO, CARLO ANCELOTTI and Spain boss VICENTE DEL BOSQUE (SKY SPORTS, 10/29).
ENGLISH PLAYERS MISSING: In London, Sam Munnery wrote after "managing a single nomination" in each of the last two years, English football was "left on the outside looking in" when the shortlist was announced. WAYNE ROONEY has "kept the flag of St George flying in the past two years but today’s shortlist was again shorn of English involvement" as it had been in '10. Even the Premier League "had to make do with only five nominations for its foreign legion." Chelsea's EDEN HAZARD, ManU's ROBIN VAN PERSIE, Arsenal's MESUT ÖZIL, Liverpool's LUIS SUAREZ and Man City's YAYA TOURE provide "the Premier League representation" (LONDON TIMES, 10/29). In London, Alan Smith wrote "for those arguing that the Bundesliga has now overtaken the Premier League in terms of quality," the Ballon D'Or shortlist fails to "offer overwhelming proof." The list features seven German players, as "opposed to five from these shores." It "would have been six had Gareth Bale stayed at Tottenham." So "those figures alone don't point to a significant shift in power." The more "telling fact, though, is the fact that not one Englishman makes the cut." Potential nominees such as Rooney, Man City's JOE HART and Arsenal's JACK WILSHERE were also left off. Not "surprisingly, the shortlist is dominated by" Bayern Munich. Alongside goalkeeper MANUEL NEUER, "another five Bayern players jostle for position having conquered all in their path in formidable style" (TELEGRAPH, 10/29).