By Adebayo Williams
Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, former teammate N’Golo Kante and Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin are among the players listed on the 55-player shortlist for the FIFPro 2016 World 11. Vardy and Kante were instrumental to the Foxes’ Premier League victory last season while Bellerin’s bust into the first team was phenomenal. Others on the list include Portugal and Ral Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Atletico Madrid and France’s Antoine Griezmann and Barcelona and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
Elsewhere, there are returns for Claudio Bravo and Mesut Ozil, both of whom were last short-listed in 2014, while Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain features for the first time in six years – thanks in no small part to his record-breaking exploits in Serie A last season with Napoli. Wayne Rooney misses out for the first time since the award’s inception but his Manchester United team-mates David de Gea, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are all included.
The final 11 will be announced in Zurich on January 9.
WORLD 11 NOMINEES:
Goalkeepers (5): Claudio Bravo (Chile/FC Barcelona/Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy/Juventus), David de Gea (Spain/Manchester United), Keylor Navas (Costa Rica/Real Madrid) and Manuel Neuer (Germany/FC Bayern Munich).
Defenders (20): David Alaba (Austria/FC Bayern Munich), Jordi Alba (Spain/FC Barcelona), Serge Aurier (Cote d’Ivoire/Paris Saint-Germain), Héctor Bellerìn (Spain/Arsenal), Jerome Boateng (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy/Juventus), Daniel Carvajal (Spain/Real Madrid), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy/Juventus), Dani Alves (Brazil/FC Barcelona/Juventus), David Luiz (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain/Chelsea), Diego Godin (Uruguay/Atletico Madrid), Mats Hummels (Germany/Borussia Dortmund/FC Bayern Munich), Philipp Lahm (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Marcelo (Brazil/Real Madrid), Javier Mascherano (Argentina/FC Barcelona), Pepe (Portugal/Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain/FC Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Spain/Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (Brazil/Paris Saint-Germain) and Raphael Varane (France/Real Madrid).
Midfielders (15): Xabi Alonso (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquets (Spain/FC Barcelona), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium/Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Belgium/Chelsea), Andres Iniesta (Spain/FC Barcelona), N’Golo Kante (France/Leicester City/Chelsea) Toni Kroos (Germany/Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Croatia/Real Madrid), Mesut Özil (Germany/Arsenal), Dimitri Payet (France/West Ham United), Paul Pogba (France/Juventus/Manchester United), Ivan Rakitic (Croatia/FC Barcelona), David Silva (Spain/Manchester City), Marco Verratti (Italy/Paris Saint-Germain) and Arturo Vidal (Chile/FC Bayern Munich).
Strikers (15): Sergio Aguero (Argentina/Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Wales/Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (France/Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Argentina/Juventus), Antoine Griezmann (France/Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina/Napoli/Juventus), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/Paris Saint-Germain/Manchester United), Robert Lewandowski (Poland/FC Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Argentina/FC Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Germany/FC Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil/FC Barcelona), Alexis Sanchez (Chile/Arsenal), Luis Suarez (Uruguay/FC Barcelona) and Jamie Vardy (England/Leicester City).