River Plate’s Uruguayan winger Carlos Sánchez and Boca Juniors striker Carlos Tevez are among the 59 players who have made the provisional shortlist for the prestigious Ballon d’Or Award, according to a list published by Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Argentina has five other representatives besides Tevez on the shortlist, making it the best-represented country. (Not too surprising really for the number-one ranked national team in the world but we’ll take it). The other five Argentines are Manchester City pair Sergio Agüero and Nicolás Otamendi and a pair of Javier’s: Paris Saint-Germain winger Pastore and Barcelona defensive midfielder Mascherano. Oh, and that guy called Messi has somehow made the cut as well.
The Ballon d’Or is awarded to the best footballer in a calendar year; this huge shortlist will be shortened to 23 and then a final three, and the winner is voted by national team captains, managers and journalists from around the world.
Sánchez has made the shortlist after being a key part of the River Plate team that won the Copa Libertadores in August, while Tevez starred for Juventus as they won Serie A and reached the final of the Champions League, which they lost to Messi’s Barcelona.
Despite currently being injured, La Pulga is the favorite to win the prize for a fifth time ahead of Real Madrid’s Portugese winger Cristiano Ronaldo after the Catalan club also won La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
Along with Tevez and Sánchez, only one other player based in South America made the shortlist, Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero, who plays in Brazil for Corinthians.
While we await official confirmation from FIFA for the list, it’s worth noting that there are some, shall we say, contentious inclusions in the list, including Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu, who is struggling to get regular football for his club Bournemouth (who have just been promoted to the English Premier League,) despite being the player of the tournament in January’s African Cup of Nations competition.
Perhaps even stranger is the inclusion of Australian midfielder Massimo Luongo, who was player of the tournament in the Asia Cup in January. (No, Australia hasn’t suddenly moved continents, it just plays in their competitions for a bit more, urm, competition, compared to playing against New Zealand and a bunch of tiny islands in the South Pacific.) Anyway, Luongo spent the first half of the year at Swindon, who play in England’s League One. (Don’t let the stupid name fool you, that’s the third division.) In the summer he moved to Queens Park Rangers, who play in the league above, logically called the Championship (the second division.)
At the end of the day, the Ballon d’Or is only really about two people anyway. Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the award over the last few years and are set to resume their personal battle this time around, but I guess it’s still nice for the other players to get some recognition for a good year by being named on the shortlist.