FIFA has released the 23-man “shortlist” of players eligible to receive the Ballon d’Or. It has all the usual cast of characters: Messi, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Neuer, etc.
Except one: Luis Suarez.
The controversial striker, who moved from Liverpool to Barcelona this year amid another biting incident, was left off the shortlist despite winning Player of the Year last season in the Premier League and leading the league in goals.
Nugget: 12 of Luis Suarez’s 31 goals and 11 of his 21 assists came in the 2014 calendar year, as opposed to 19 goals in 2013 and 10 assists.
Despite the massive 23-player list, only eight clubs are represented on the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Of more importance to United States fans, manager Jurgen Klinsmann was one of 10 coaches named to the shortlist for FIFA’s Coach of the Year award. He was one of three (and a half?) national team managers on the list alongside Germany’s Joachim Low and former Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella (and Louis van Gaal, who was with the Netherlands and now manages Manchester United). Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho are the two former winners on the list.
The award ceremony will take place on January 12, 2015 in Zurich.
FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist:
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Chelsea), Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Angel Di Maria (Manchester United), Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain), 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).
FIFA Coach of the Year shortlist:
Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid), Antonio Conte (Juventus), Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich), Jurgen Klinsmann (United States), Joachim Low (Germany), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City), *Alejandro Sabella (Argentina), Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid), Louis van Gaal (Netherlands/Manchester United).
*Sabella resigned from his position after the World Cup final and has not since been hired