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FIFA Release 24-Man Shortlist For Best Player Of 2017

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) celebrates with Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder Luka Modric (L) and Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos after scoring during the UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg football match Real Madrid CF vs Club Atletico de Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on May 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GERARD JULIEN (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s that time of year again when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo battle against each other under the pretence of it being anything other than a two-horse race for the end of season awards.

With France Football and FIFA ending their partnership last year there are now two awards to be won – the former’s traditional Ballon d’Or and the latter’s Best Men’s’ Player award.

On Thursday, FIFA released the 24-man shortlist of their 2017 award voted on by legends of the game such as Cafu, Carles Puyol and Diego Maradona, and it will surprise nobody to learn that Champions League winners Real Madrid feature heavily.

Of the current Spanish and European champions, seven players feature in all – namely Ronaldo, Dani Carvajal, Toni Kroos, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos.

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (2L) and teammates celebrate their third goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match Real Madrid CF vs SSC Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 15, 2017. / AFP / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Beaten Champions League finalists Juventus are represented with three players – Leonardo Bonucci (now at AC Milan), Gianluigi Buffon and Paulo Dybala – while Bayern Munich also have three on the nominees’ list (Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer and Arturo Vidal).

Barcelona, despite exiting the competition at the quarter-final stage have four players on the list (although Neymar has since departed) – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta the other names chosen.

Premier League representation is not particularly high, with just Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante worthy of merit.

Atletico Madrid’s Antonie Griemann and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang round out the full list of 24, to be cut down after a vote next month before the final award is given out at the end of the calendar year.

The initial nominees for Best Coach have also been released with Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane surely the early favourite to land the award. Beaten finalist Max Allegri is also in the running, as is Germany manager Joachim Low after a successful Confederations Cup campaign.

The proportion of Premier League nominees is much higher in this category with Chelsea boss Antonio Conte joined by Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and Manchester-based managers Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in the running.

Carlo Ancelotti, Luis Enrique, Diego Simeone, Tite and Leandro Jardim round out the list that will also be cut to three before being decided later this year.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.