The obvious names such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar were of course shortlisted, as were some of the world’s most in-form players in 2017 such as Harry Kane, Dries Mertens, Kylian Mbappe, and Edin Dzeko.
11 nominations came from La Liga, with seven from the Premier League.
As ever, there were also a host of some of Europe’s finest players who didn’t make the cut.
RealSport have picked a best XI out of some of those names.
GK- Manuel Neuer: Bayern Munich
What a horrible year the German keeper has had.
Neuer has arguably been the best goalie in the world for the past four years, however has had a torrid time with injuries. Neuer has broken his foot a ridiculous three times in the last six months and is likely to be out of action until 2018.
Bayern could certainly do with their sweeper keeper returning between the sticks as soon as possible if they wish to close the gap on Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga.
RB- Dani Carvajal: Real Madrid
Carvajal can feel hard done by for not being included in the shortlist, however the Ballon d’Or often tends to ignore a lot of the world’s best defenders.
Carvajal has established himself as arguably the best right back in Europe for Real Madrid and is a crucial cog in the way Zinedine Zidane instructs his side to play, with marauding runs down the right-hand side. He is also dependable at the back and a world class full back.
CB- Gerard Pique: Barcelona
The best ball-playing centre half in world football. Had Barcelona achieved more success in the past year, Pique would have undoubtedly been included in the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Pique has developed into an exceptional leader at the back for both club and country. His defensive lapses are a thing of the past and there is little doubt Pique is one of the best centre backs in the universe.
CB- Giorgio Chiellini: Juventus
The Italian has been part of the best defensive structure at Juventus throughout the whole of Europe for a number of years. He made up a third of an all Italian backline and is still a superb centre back and leader. Chiellini reads the game brilliantly and is a rock at the back for club and country.
LB- David Alaba: Bayern Munich
Arguably the best two fullbacks in world football didn’t make the shortlist.
Of course, it was unlikely there was ever going to be more than one left back, and Marcelo is certainly deserving of a place, however Alaba couldn’t do much more.
He is one of the most intelligent players in world football, and also able to play central midfield. He has superb technique and is a solid defender and always dangerous in the final third.
CM- Thiago: Bayern Munich
There are not many midfielders better than the Spanish genius. He completely controls the midfield and Barcelona must be wondering how they could let him go so easily. Thiago has superb passing, vision and is always a step ahead of his opponents, which also sees the Munich midfielder out in a good defensive shift for his side. Arguably the best central midfielder in the world.
CM- Casemiro: Real Madrid
Probably the only player in the Madrid team who doesn’t hold the world class reputation. However, his performances in the past two years show that simply is not true. His defensive work and cover for the Madrid side allows the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos the ability control the tempo of the game, knowing they have the Brazilian protecting behind them. Not only that, Casemiro has shown a knack for producing big moments in big games, including a screamer in last seasons Champions League victory over Juventus.
RW- Gareth Bale: Real Madrid
Since the Welshman joined Madrid four years ago for a then world record transfer fee, Bale has missed one out of every three games for his club. Bale was supposed to be the heir to Ronaldo’s throne, and although he is still a world class player who has played a major part in Madrid’s recent title successes, it is fair to say Bale hasn’t quite become the superstar for Madrid that he was expected to be.
CAM- Christian Eriksen: Tottenham Hotspur
It is hard to see how Coutinho warranted an inclusion into the shortlist ahead of the Danish playmaker. Since last season, Coutinho has scored 14 goals and set up nine whereas Eriksen has scored 13, but set up an incredible 23. Since the start of last season, Eriksen has played the most key passes, made the most assists and created the most chances out of any other player in Europe’s top five league’s.
LW- Marco Asensio: Real Madrid
What a star Asensio is, and is going to be. He is a wonderful technician, and only seems to score spectacular goals.
He is also a big game player, scoring in last year’s UEFA Supercup, Champions League semi-final and then final, as well as against Barcelona in this season’s Supercopa. Asensio can dribble, pass, shoot and has a wonderful understanding of the game. It takes a special player to break into the Madrid first eleven from the academy, and Asensio is certainly that.
ST- Sergio Aguero: Manchester City
The Manchester City sharp shooter is surely one of the top five strikers in world football? The Argentine has the best goals per minutes ratio out of any Premier League striker who has scored ten plus goals in history and is almost unplayable when fit and on form. Aguero is exceptional at working a yard for himself before getting a shot away.
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