Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are once again expected to be the main contenders in this year’s prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
Portuguese forward Ronaldo, who has won the last two awards, and four-times winner Messi, have been named on the Fifa’s 23-man shortlist and will go head-to-head for the 2015 prize.
The list is dominated by three clubs with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich providing 16 players between them.
Barca”s famed strike force of Argentinian Messi, Uruguayan Luis Suarez and Brazilian Neymar being joined by Spanish midfielder Andrés Iniesta, Argentinian defender Javier Mascherano and Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic
Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who set a club scoring record with his 324th goal on Saturday. is joined by team-mates Karim Benzema of France and Welshman Gareth Bale who comprise the Spanish side’s “BBC” forward line. Colombian James Rodríguez and German World Cup-winner Toni Kroos complete the quintet.
German champions Bayern Munich also have five representatives with Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben, Arturo Vidal and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré, winner of the last four African Player of the Year awards, is the only non European or South American to make the list.
The list was composed by the Fifa Football Committee and a group of experts from France Football. The winner will be announced in Zurich on 11 January.
Shortlist: Sergio Agüero (Argentina/Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Wales/Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Belgium/Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Paris Saint-Germain), Andrés Iniesta (Spain/Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Germany/Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Argentina/Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona), Thomas Müller (Germany/Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Germany/Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil/Barcelona), Paul Pogba (France/Juventus), Ivan Rakitic (Croatia/Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Netherlands/Bayern Munich), James Rodríguez (Colombia/Real Madrid), Alexis Sánchez (Chile/Arsenal), Luis Suárez (Uruguay/Barcelona), Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast/Manchester City), Arturo Vidal (Chile/Bayern Munich).