x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Gareth Bale among Ballon D’Or contenders

Wales winger joins Lionel Messi and Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in 23-man shortlist.

Gareth Bale finds his name in the Ballon D'Or shortlist. David Ramos / Getty Images
Gareth Bale finds his name in the Ballon D'Or shortlist. David Ramos / Getty Images

Gareth Bale, the Wales winger, joins Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among the leading contenders for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award.

The 23-man shortlist for the prestigious world player of the year award was announced early on Tuesday morning, with the winner to be unveiled on January 13 in Zurich.

Bale, 24, became the world’s most expensive player when he joined Real Madrid from Tottenham for €100 million (Dh506.4m) in September after scoring 26 goals for Spurs last season.

Messi, the Barcelona and Argentina forward, has won the award for the last four years, with Bale’s Madrid teammate Ronaldo consistently his nearest challenger.

Franck Ribery, who was named Uefa’s best player in Europe for the 2012/13 season after helping Bayern Munich win the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup, is another prominent name on the shortlist.

Ribery is joined by club-mates Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger while Barcelona also have Xavi, Andres Iniesta and summer signing Neymar among the candidates.

The Paris St Germain trio Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva have made the shortlist while fellow Ligue 1 big-spenders Monaco have a contender of their own in Radamel Falcao, acquired from Atletico Madrid in the close season.

Five Premier League players – Manchester United striker Robin van Persie, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, controversial Liverpool frontman Luis Suarez, Chelsea winger Eden Hazard and Arsenal’s recent addition Mesut Ozil – have made the cut.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager who retired at the end of last season, headlines a 10-man coach of the year shortlist along with Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Spain boss Vicente del Bosque.