Wayne Rooney and Nani have both been shortlisted for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or
The cynic might say Lionel Messi will win the FIFA Ballon d'Or again so what is the point of a shortlist for this award? Yes, this is true but it is still an honor to be nominated and it likely is quite meaningful to the players themselves. 23 players have been shortlisted for the award and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Nani are included amongst those on the impressive list. Only two other English Premier League players have been nominated -- Manchester City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool's Luis Suarez. The champions of Europe -- FC Barcelona -- have eight total players nominated.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson -- who will celebrate 25 years at the club on Sunday -- has also been honored by being shortlisted for FIFA World Coach of the Year. The legendary boss led United to their 19th league title last season -- a feat that allowed his club to knock rival Liverpool off their perch as co-holders for the most English titles in history. He also led the Reds to their third Champions League final in their past four seasons. Barcelona's Pep Guardiola may be considered to be the favorite for the award after defeating United in the mentioned final and also for leading the Catalan side to another La Liga title over Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid side.
Messi is the clear favorite for the Ballon d'Or but players like former United talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta deserve special recognition for having outstanding years and for being brilliant footballers. There appear to be a few curious selections as well. While every player on the list is undeniably talented, a few have failed to live up to the lofty heights of their reputation in the past calendar year. The likes of Wesley Sneijder, Diego Forlan, and Eric Abidal come to mind. However, the latter's recovery from cancer is a tremendous story.
Here is the full shortlist for both awards:
FIFA Ballon d'Or: Eric Abidal (France | Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Argentina | Manchester City), Karim Benzema (France | Real Madrid), Iker Casillas (Spain | Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal | Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Brazil | Barcelona), Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon | Anzhi Makhachkala), Cesc Fabregas (Spain | Barcelona), Diego Forlan (Uruguay | Inter Milan), Andres Iniesta (Spain | Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Argentina | Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Germany | Bayern Munich), Nani (Portugal | Manchester United), Neymar (Brazil | Santos), Mesut Ozil (Germany | Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain | Barcelona), Wayne Rooney (England | Manchester United), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany | Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands | Inter Milan), Luis Suarez (Uruguay | Liverpool), David Villa (Spain | Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Spain | Real Madrid), Xavi (Spain | Barcelona)
FIFA World Coach of the Year: Vincente Del Bosque (Spain national team), Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United), Rudi Garcia (Lille OSC), Pep Guardiola (Barcelona), Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Joachim Low (Germany national team), Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid), Oscar Tabarez (Uruguay national team), Andre Villas-Boas (FC Porto/Chelsea), Arsene Wegner (Arsenal)
Who do you feel is deserving of each award? Who do you feel was wrongly omitted from the shortlist? Are any players undeserving in your opinion?