Football

Manchester City trio make the cut in 23-man Ballon d'Or shortlist - David Silva misses out

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Manchester City trio Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have made the 23-man Ballon d'Or shortlist, alongside Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez and Chelsea winger Eden Hazard.

The shortlist, which was reduced from 59 on October 20, includes the Premier League's top goalscorer last season, the CAF African Footballer of the Year and City's new £55 million signing.

Aguero's 26 goals last term were an invaluable asset for City in the league despite, failing to secure a consecutive title.

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Toure's ten league goals came despite enduring criticism for not matching his form from the previous campaign when he scored twice as many. His inclusion is made all the more bewildering when it's considered that David Silva was snubbed a place.

Kevin De Bruyne's selection has come for his outstanding season with Wolfsburg, for whom he scored ten goals and topped the Bundesliga assist charts with 20. Die Wolfe finished four points short of champions Bayern Munich, largely owed to the Belgian's creativity.

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Current PFA Player of the Year Eden Hazard scored 14 goals en route to Chelsea winning the league title last campaign, finishing eight points clear of City and picking up the Blues' Player of the Season and Players' Player of the Season gongs.

Alexis Sanchez also made the grade after scoring 26 goals in 58 appearances for Arsenal, having joined the Premier League from Barcelona last summer. He has proved himself to be arguably the Gunners' most important asset.

Bale representing Britain

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale is the only British player on the shortlist, largely thanks to helping Wales qualify for their first major tournament since 1958. However, he had a rather uninspiring campaign for Madrid last year, managing 13 goals - 35 less than teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese winger is a strong favourite for the title again having won it last year. His 48-goal haul in the league was five more than Barcelona's Lionel Messi, who has struggled to keep up with his rival.

Currently out with injury, Messi is Ronaldo's biggest threat from stopping him winning the title for the third consecutive season.

Best of the rest

Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer is the only goalkeeper to be named on the shortlist, while Javier Mascherano is the only defender in contention for the award.

La Liga has the most representatives with 11 players nominated, including Real's Karim Benzema, Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

It comes as little surprise that Robert Lewandowski is one of the six nominees representing the Bundesliga after his 17 league goals. He is just five goals short of that tally after nine games this season, having scored five goals in nine minutes against Wolfsburg.

The Poland international's team-mates Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller also join him to contest for the title, while Arturo Vidal comes up against former Juventus team-mate Paul Pogba.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, on the other hand, it is the only Ligue 1 player to earn recognition, scoring 19 league goals as he guided Paris-Saint Germain to the French title in 2014/15.

The winner is to be announced on January 11 in Zurich.

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