An excellent XI of players not to be nominated for FIFA’s Player of the Year

Quick Reads

Despite the Ballon d’Or being cancelled this year by organisers France Football, FIFA have released their own shortlist for the 2020 Player of the Year.

In no particular order, the list features: Thiago Alcantara, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin de Bruyne, Robert Lewandowski, Sadio Mane, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Sergio Ramos, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk. This leaves plenty of world-class talent unrecognised.

We’ve made an XI of players who didn’t quite make the cut, lining up in a 4-3-3 formation.

GK – Manuel Neuer

We could list Neuer’s lengthy career achievements. We could remind you how the Germany captain led Bayern Munich to a treble in 2019-20, having previously helped to reinvent the role of goalkeeper and ushering in the age of sweeper keepers we see today.

Or we could just show you this save instead…

RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold

We simply had to get him in.

CB – Marquinhos

Now an integral defensive component for club or country, Marquinhos was appointed PSG captain in September 2020 after Thiago Silva’s departure.

With both Van Dijk and Ramos being shortlisted, the 26-year-old has a strong case for being ‘best of the rest’ for world centre-backs.

READ: Where are they now? 14 wonderkids from FIFA 15: Marquinhos, Januzaj, Shaw

CB – Raphael Varane

While he had a mare during Real Madrid’s Champions League exit to Manchester City, Varane remains a class act and helped his club win the La Liga title for the first time since 2017.

With him and Marquinhos marshalling the defence, we’d expect this Xl to concede fewer goals than the 2005 Chelsea team.

LB – Alphonso Davies

The best thing to come out of Canada since maple syrup.

READ: An Everton fan’s journey from ‘Dream Team’ to coaching Alphonso Davies

CM – Joshua Kimmich

The third of four Bayern players in our line-up, we originally had Kimmich at right-back but felt compelled to move him into midfield to open up a slot for Alexander-Arnold.

Now firmly established as a midfielder – 34 of his 51 appearances in 2019-20 were as a holding midfielder, according to Transfermarkt – we had to put Kimmich in for this chip alone.

CM – Casemiro

Normally we’d have N’golo Kante as one of the first names on the teamsheet, but the Chelsea man had an underwhelming 2019-20 season and is only just regaining form now, meaning an opportunity arose for one of Europe’s most underrated elite players.

“Ahhh, Casimiro. He saved my life. I might play until I’m 45 with this guy by my side,” Marcelo told the Players Tribune in 2017.

Character references like these speak for themselves.

CM – Jordan Henderson

Stop sniggering at the back. As the captain who finally lifted the Premier League title for Liverpool, we didn’t fancy the hordes of angry Reds fans by excluding the midfielder.

Plus, he’s actually really, really good.

READ: Jordan Henderson is casually pulling out Xabi Alonso-esque passes again

RW – Thomas Muller

Despite possessing the humour that would make your old man wince, Muller continues to impress for Bayern Munich.

The forward has scored 20 goals and provided 32 assists since the start of last season, making his exclusion from FIFA’s shortlist baffling, and his continued exile from the Germany squad even worse.

LW – Son Heung-min

Son is now firmly established as not only one of the Premier League’s best forwards right now but also one of the greatest Asian footballers in history.

Continuing to thrive under the management of Jose Mourinho, the South Korea international has notched 15 goals this calendar year, most of which were provided by Harry Kane.

Witnesses claim that Kane acted as midwife at Son’s birth, despite not being born himself for further 12 months.

ST – Erling Haaland

Who else? Sorry, Harry.


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