France Football unveiled their shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d'Or on Monday evening.
The 30 players in contention for the illustrious prize included plenty of names one would expect, such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe.
But there were a handful of surprise omissions, too.
Neymar, Paul Pogba and Harry Kane are nowhere to be seen, which is made all the more peculiar with the likes of Hugo Lloris and Marquinhos making the cut instead.
That said, it’s nonetheless a huge honour to be nominated for the final Ballon d’Or shortlist.
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The annual award also provides an indication of which clubs, leagues and nations the leading players in world football come from.
Liverpool dominates the 2019 edition with seven nominees including Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Premier League winners Manchester City are narrowly behind the Champions League holders with Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero among their five candidates.
Barcelona rank third with four of their players included.
Looking at which league boasts the most inclusions, no less than half of the 30-man shortlist is made up of Premier League stars - three times more than La Liga.
It seems the impressive performances of English clubs in Europe last season hasn’t gone unnoticed among the voters.
The presence of English national team players is sparse, though; only Sterling and Alexander-Arnold got the nod despite their key roles in Manchester City and Liverpool’s successful campaigns.
So which is the best-represented country, you ask? It’s the Netherlands.
Dutch players are in the running for the award, led by Van Dijk after he was named the UEFA Player of the Year in August.
Incredibly, there isn’t a single Spanish player in the mix, as you can see in the table below.
After having Sergio Ramos, Isco, David de Gea, Andres Iniesta, Diego Costa, Xavi Hernandez and Koke all feature in recent years, the 2019 Ballon d'Or winner announced in Paris on 2 December won’t be from Spain.
This is no doubt due to a sorry showing at the 2018 World Cup, compounded by poor domestic and continental campaigns from both Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Even so, it’s a big shock for such a giant football nation to have nobody contesting the biggest individual accolade the sport has to offer.News Now - Sport News