New Delhi: Former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez's name has been omitted by FIFA from the 23-man Ballon d'Or shortlist. This comes as a big surprise as the Barcelona forward had bagged 31 goals and 14 assists for Liverpool, in the Premier League 2013-14 season.
Suarez who bagged the Premier League's best player award for his heroics last season, was also handed the European Golden Boot Award 2014, which he shared with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
This omission comes as a big shock for the footballing world. The controversial striker who got into trouble after biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, while playing for Uruguay at the World Cup, received a fourth-month ban by FIFA at club level and for nine competitive internationals.
The 27-year old made his competitive Barcelona debut against Real Madrid on Saturday in the El Clasico. Luis Suarez would definitely be a strong contender for the award but FIFA has thought otherwise.
Meanwhile, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and the current Ballon D'or holder Cristiano Ronaldo, are sure to battle it out once more. Ronaldo's stunning form in 2014 puts him down as the clear favourite - he guided Real Madrid to the Champions League title in May and has 21 goals in 14 appearances so far this season.
His Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale made the list, with the Premier League representation made up of five players. Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester City's Yaya Toure have also been nominated. EPL's new entrants from La Liga, Thibaut Courtois, Diego Costa (both played for Atletico last season) and Angel di Maria (played for Real) are in the list as well.
World Cup winners Germany have six players on the list. The 23-man list will be chopped down to three on December 1, with the winner announced in Zurich on January 12. Also named are the nominees for coach of the year, with Manchester City's title-winning manager Manuel Pellegrini and Chelsea's Jose Mourinho who are amongst the 10 selected.
23-man list Ballon D'or shortlist: Gareth Bale (Wales), Karim Benzema (France), Diego Costa (Spain), Thibaut Courtois (Belgium), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Angel Di Maria (Argentina), Mario Goetze (Germany), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Andres Iniesta (Spain), Toni Kroos (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Mueller (Germany), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Neymar (Brazil), Paul Pogba (France), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), James Rodriguez (Colombia), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Yaya Toure (Cote d'Ivoire).
Coach of the year shortlist: Carlo Ancelotti (Italy/Real Madrid CF), Antonio Conte (Italy/Juventus FC/Italy national team), Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Juergen Klinsmann (Germany/ USA national team), Joachim Loew (Germany/Germany national team), Jose Mourinho (Portugal/Chelsea FC), Manuel Pellegrini (Chile/Manchester City FC), Alejandro Sabella (Argentina/Argentina national team), Diego Simeone (Argentina/Atletico Madrid), Louis van Gaal (Netherlands/Netherlands national team/Manchester United FC).