The list of nominations for this year’s Ballon d’Or award has been released and it includes all the regular suspects like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Manuel Neuer, as well as some newcomers to the elite circle of the world’s best players – step forward, Jamie Vardy, Dimitri Payet, Pablo Dybala and Riyad Mahrez.
With just 30 players earning a nomination, there was always going to be complaints as to certain omissions.
Here is an XI of the very best who were left out…
11. David de Gea
The Manchester United stopper had a stellar 2016 and is a shock omission from the Ballon d’Or list. De Gea was once again the outstanding performer for Manchester United and earned himself the club’s Player of the Year award for a record breaking third consecutive season.
In addition, he was just one clean sheet off the Golden Glove award in the English top flight and was the only Red Devil included in the Team of the Year. He replaced Iker Casillas as Spain’s number 1 at Euro 2016 and is consistently touted as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
10. Leonardo Bonucci
Even in today’s market, being linked with a £60m move to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City tells you how good of a player Leonardo Bonucci is.
2016 was the Juventus centre back’s best year so far and it’s surprising not to see him included with the likes of Pepe and Diego Godin.
The Italian international was part of an impregnable Juve defence that romped to a fifth consecutive Scudetto title and he was the only player to play in every Serie A game last season. For Italy, he was the central defensive figure that saw the Azzurri defeat Spain before losing to Germany in the quarter finals in a penalty shootout.
9. Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique’s accomplishments in 2016 were also overlooked.
The Barcelona stalwart is ending the year with 4 trophies to his name; the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Super Cup and the UEFA Super Cup.
The 29-year-old’s importance for both club and country continues to grow and his stature as one of the best central defenders on the entire planet has not diminished in any shape or form over the last 12 months.
8. David Alaba
Bayern Munich’s David Alaba is a bit too versatile for his own good and his ability to play anywhere in defence and midfield may have worked against in him in making the 30 man cut for the Ballon d’Or – but it shouldn’t have.
Alaba picked up every domestic title there is to win with the Bavarian side and guided Austria to the European Championships in the summer. Arguably the best left back in the world, it only goes to show the heavy preference that more offensive players receive in these awards.
7. N’Golo Kante
Those who watched the Premier League last season will know that Leicester City’s historic title win is more down to the work of N’Golo Kante than the goals of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, both of whom were included in the 30 man shortlist.
What’s more, Kante was more prominent at Euro 2016 for runners up France than Vardy was for England. All in all, there seems to be absolutely no reason as to why the holding midfielder was not included in the Ballon d’Or cut, except maybe for his decision to leave the Foxes in the summer. Cue a conspiracy theory.
6. Sergio Busquets
Back to the heavy favouring that more offensive minded players receive and none is more aware of that than Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets, who lets the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez take all the glory at the Nou Camp.
However, avid fans of the Catalan club will explain that none of the goals would be possible without the work of the tall Spanish midfielder. With Barcelona and their attacking trio having an incredible 2016, the implication as to the effect of Busquet’s unseen work was at least recognised with his inclusion in La Liga’s Team of the Year.
5. Mesut Ozil
Ozil ended last season as the assist king of the Premier League with 19 and as the top dog at his club after being named as the Gunners’ Player of the Year and was hugely influential in Germany’s run to the semi finals of the Euros.
He has started just as well this season too, scoring his first ever career hat-trick whilst playing in the Champions League for Arsenal, yet it was still not enough to warrant a place in the top 30.
4. Douglas Costa
The Brazilian winger was one of the stars of the Bundesliga last year and 2016 was probably his best year playing football, becoming a regular starter for Bayern Munich in his first season at the Allianz Arena.
Injuries probably explain why Costa is not included in the list, with his involvement with Brazil at both the Copa America and the Olympics stunted as a result. Nonetheless, with four teammates selected in the 30 man list, the tricky winger may have something to argue about.
3. Karim Benzema
Had it not been for his involvement in the blackmail scandal involving Mathieu Valbuena, then Karim Benzema may well have made it into the Ballon d’Or shortlist. It was this incident in particular that saw him kicked out of the French squad for Euro 2016.
However, his goalscoring form for Real Madrid was not be affected by those rumoured off the pitch antics, and 28 goals last season has already been built upon this campaign with four league goals in just seven games.
2. Alexis Sanchez
Definitely one of the most surprising omissions is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.
There is not much more that the Chilean could have done to demonstrate his ability over the last year, with the highlight being his contribution to Chile’s success in Copa America for the second year running.
In the Premier League he grabbed 17 goals and helped the Gunners to a second place finish in the top flight. This season, he has emerged as Arsene Wenger’s first choice to play in the lone striker role.
1. Harry Kane
Pipping the current Premier League top scorer Diego Costa to the final spot in this XI is last season’s Golden Boot winner in the English top flight, Tottenham Hotspur and England striker Harry Kane.
The all-conquering forward proved all his doubters wrong by making his 2016 even better than his 2015, ending the season as the most potent striker in the league. Despite a quiet Euros, he grabbed two goals this season before suffering an injury.