A 23-man shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or was compiled by the FIFA Football Committee and a group of experts from France Football. It was announced on 29 October.
A ten-player shortlist was unveiled on Friday, 25 October for the FIFA's Women's Player of the Year, which was chosen by experts from FIFA's Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women’s World Cup and a group of experts from France Football.
These will both be reduced to three players for each award, being announced at a later stage. From the final shortlists, journalists, national coaches and captains will vote for the winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or and the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.
The winners of all of the awards will be revealed at the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala as part of a televised show at the Zurich Kongresshaus on 13 January 2014.
Over the past five years Gareth Bale has gone from up-and-coming English Premier League left-back to one of the most feared attacking midfielders in the world. He has gained a reputation as a serial terroriser of defenders with his combination of pace and audacious shooting ability. Last season he scored a litany of spectacular goals for Tottenham Hotspur, while getting a notable winner for Wales against Scotland in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying which typified his power, invention and confidence. He was voted as PFA Players' Player, Young Player and Football Writer's Player of the Year ahead of making his move to Real Madrid.
The willowy 26-year-old striker capped his fourth and final season with Napoli by making off with Serie A’s coveted capocannoniere title as the league's leading goalscorer, the first time he has won the accolade. El Matador has since taken his finishing skills to Paris Saint-German, his fourth club, where he now forms one of Europe’s most potent strike forces with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Deployed in a variety of positions by Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, the versatile Cavani also chipped in with five goals in the South American qualifying competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
2013 proved to be another goal-drenched year for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star helped himself to 34 of them in the 2012/13 Liga season, a haul beaten only by Lionel Messi’s 45, and scored a hatful more in Europe and for his national team. Always on top form for Real Madrid and Portugal, the flying forward, who won the FIFA World Player award in 2008, is only gaining in stature with Los Merengues, and it came as no surprise when he extended his contract with the club to 2018 and said he was considering staying put for the rest of his career.
After figuring in the FIFA/FIFPro World XI for the first time last year, El Tigre finished the 2012/13 season as the third-highest scorer in the Spanish league, a fitting way to end his productive association with Atletico Madrid. Having won the Copa del Rey, the UEFA Europa League and the European Super Cup with Atleti, Falcao moved to French side Monaco, the fourth club of his career, where he has continued to find the back of the net. The 27-year-old Colombian striker is also one of the leaders of his national side, scoring nine goals in their successful qualification bid for Brazil 2014, where they will make their return to the FIFA World Cup™ following absence of 16 years.
Having racked up an impressive silverware collection in France with Lille – including the Ligue 1 title, the Coupe de France and best player plaudits in 2011 and 2012 – Eden Hazard arrived at Chelsea with weighty expectations on his shoulders. The Belgian schemer has not disappointed either, helping the Blues clinch the UEFA Europa League and forging a place for himself in the starting XI at Stamford Bridge. On top of that, he played his part as Belgium secured a spot at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ to end a 12-year absence. Quick, intelligent and possessing an eye for goal and fantastic technique, Hazard can do it all and does it supremely well. And he is still only 22.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic departed Italy in 2012 having just marched his way to the top of the Serie A scoring charts, and he quickly carried on in the same vein at Paris Saint-Germain. Racking up 30 goals in France's top flight, the Swedish international became the first player since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1990 to reach that lofty figure as he powered his side towards the Ligue 1 title, while also helping them reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. He has started the 2013/14 campaign with similar panache too, despite facing competition from Edinson Cavani at the Parc des Princes. Buoyed by championship wins in four different nations (Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France), Ibrahimovic now hopes to experience success on the international stage, the Sweden captain having led his side into the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ play-offs.
Andres Iniesta has been at the peak of his considerable footballing powers for some time now. Over the last few seasons, the 29-year-old has distinguished himself time and again for club and country, becoming one of the main architects of the exquisite style of play pursued by Spain and Barcelona. Though 2013 has been one of his less prolific years in terms of silverware, with Iniesta winning the Spanish league title and Super Cup and finishing a runner-up at the FIFA Confederation Cup Brazil 2013, he has maintained his impeccably high standards. In winning the adidas Silver Ball behind Neymar at the Festival of Champions, the midfielder consolidated his status one of the greatest players in the game today.
Philipp Lahm is currently enjoying the most successful period of his already impressive career. The tireless right-back was captain of the Bayern Munich team that won the league, cup and UEFA Champions League treble in 2013. He also captained the Germany side that sealed qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in comprehensive fashion, with nine victories and a draw from ten matches. Lahm, who made his 100th international appearance in September this year, has shown remarkable consistency again this campaign, prompting new Bayern coach Pep Guardiola to deploy the 29-year-old in a holding midfield role.
It is little wonder that Robert Lewandowski has become one of the most sought-after strikers in Europe. The Polish international’s contract with Borussia Dortmund runs out at the end of the season and he’s scoring goals by the hatful. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, with 12 goals, found the net more often than the 25-year-old in last season’s UEFA Champions League. Lewandowski’s ten goals, including a record-breaking four in the semi-final first leg against Ronaldo’s Real Madrid, were a major factor in helping BVB reach the final at Wembley. The striker’s strength and perseverance, as well as his agility and technical ability, make him a nightmare for opposition defences.
Since winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or the Barcelona ace has showed no sign whatsoever of letting up, topping the La Liga’s scoring charts as his side made off with the 2012/13 league title. Messi has been just as prolific on the international front, finishing the South American qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ as the second-highest marksman. With a third world finals to look forward to next year, the 26-year-old attacking wizard is bearing downing fast on another record, as he seeks to become the highest goalscorer in the history of the UEFA Champions League.
Thomas Muller, who won the adidas Golden Shoe award at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, played a key role in the Bayern Munich team that won the league, DFB-Cup and UEFA Champions League treble. The 24-year-old was the club’s top goalscorer in Europe’s premier club competition last season with eight goals, including three against Barcelona in the semi-final. Intelligent, hard-working and at his best when relying on instinct, Muller helped Germany qualify for the 2014 World Cup with aplomb and is determined to go all the way in Brazil.
Neymar was hardly an unknown quantity before 2013, having earned a reputation for creativity and unpredictability since bursting on to the scene as a teenager at Santos. This year has nevertheless seen the Brazilian starlet join the global elite, his elevation coming on the back of a stunning display at the FIFA Confederations Cup, where he won the adidas Golden Ball in helping the hosts land the title. Neymar's sparkling early months at his new club Barcelona has merely confirmed that the hype surrounding him in his rapid ascent was entirely justified.
Mesut Ozil has forged a reputation as one of the best goal-providers in the world. The German international has a zest for the game which is unbounded. Pulling the strings in midfield, his lethal passes often result in goalscoring opportunities for his team-mates. An invaluable player during his time at Real Madrid, Ozil reached the Champions League semi-final with the Spanish giants last season, creating five goals along the way. His eight strikes during the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign also made him one of the key protagonists in the German national team. Ozil now plies his trade at Arsenal, where he has instantly become a firm favourite with the fans.
A connoisseur of fine wines, Andrea Pirlo possesses his own vineyards and is even considering dedicating his life to his passion when he finally hangs up his boots. And like the best wines, he only gets better with age, the 34-year-old having lost neither his ability to read the game nor his passing and set-piece accuracy. Pirlo was central to Juventus' Scudetto triumphs in 2012 and 2013 and continues to pull the midfield strings in style for Italy, with whom he reached the final of UEFA EURO 2012 before helping them take bronze at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and seal a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Frustration reigned for Franck Ribery in 2012 as Bayern Munich finished runners-up in the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League, but the dangerous France winger did not have to wait long to exorcise the memory. Operating at a different level since those disappointments, he helped his side win all three competitions in 2013, adding the UEFA Super Cup for good measure. Moreover, he has also shone brighter for Les Bleus in recent times, becoming a more convincing and decisive performer on the international stage. Reputed for his mesmerising dribbles, precise shooting ability, and explosive acceleration, those qualities could well keep Bayern on top at home and abroad and inspire France to force their way back into the limelight – just as they convinced UEFA to crown him the Best Player in Europe in 2013.
Midfield maestro Bastian Schweinsteiger has long since established himself as one of the most consistent performers for Bayern Munich and Germany. Schweinsteiger has won the lot domestically, but had to wait a while for his first international title: He was on the losing side in two UEFA Champions League finals and in the UEFA EURO 2008 final, but managed to lead Bayern to the Champions League title in 2013. The 29-year-old, who won his 100th cap for die Nationalmannschaft recently, now wants to cap off a glittering career by winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.
It seems that nothing can sate the 26-year-old Uruguay and Liverpool striker’s appetite for goals. Second in the Premier League scoring charts last season, El Pistolero also contributed 11 goals to his country’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualification campaign, becoming the first ever Uruguayan to top-score in the South American qualifiers. Just for good measure Suarez also became La Celeste’s leading all-time goalscorer during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, displacing fellow Charrúa icon Diego Forlan.
Thiago Silva is now one of the best central defenders in the world, a status he owes as much to his strength of character and winning mentality as to his unquestionable ability. It is those qualities that have made him an obvious choice as captain wherever he has played. After pulling on the armband at Fluminense, AC Milan and for his country, the imposing Brazilian was made skipper at Paris Saint-Germain after moving to the French capital in 2012. Maintaining the high standards he has always set for himself, Silva helped his new club land the French league title and the Super Cup, establishing himself as one of the icons of the new-look PSG. The centre-half set the seal on a great year by turning in a commanding display at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, leading the hosts to the title and having the honour of lifting the trophy following their defeat of Spain in the final.
Yaya Toure was once again the driving force in Manchester City's midfield in 2012/13, as the holders narrowly missed out on retaining the English Premier League title. Toure scored seven league goals from midfield, one more than the previous campaign, as city rivals Manchester United overcame the Citizens' challenge to see Roberto Mancini's men into second. On the international scene, Côte d'Ivoire fell at the quarter-final stage of the CAF African Cup of Nations, but the towering midfielder enjoyed a good year personally, retaining the CAF African Player of the Year award for 2012 and scoring more international goals in 2013 than in the three previous years combined.
“Van Persie changed their situation. He is the difference between us." These were the words of then Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini earlier this year, acknowledging the decisive impact of Robin van Persie’s decision to sign for Manchester United. Few could argue with the assertion that the Dutchman was the key reason behind the English Premier League title changing hands between the Manchester clubs last season, with 26 goals having seen him finish as the division’s top scorer. Nor did Van Persie restrict his fine form to the club arena; with 11 goals for the Netherlands in qualifying for Brazil 2014, he was the European Zone’s leading marksman, finishing one clear of City’s Bosnia-Herzegovina star Edin Dzeko.
The years go by, coaches come and go, but Xavi continues to shine. Now 33, he remains Barcelona’s midfield linchpin and keeps on breaking records, having now won seven league titles with Los Azulgranas, more than any other player in the club’s history, and racked up over 600 appearances with them, another club record. This year has also seen him lift the Spanish Super Cup and reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. On the international front he and his Spain team-mates had to be content with the runners-up slot at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 following their heavy defeat to the hosts in the final. He made a typically important contribution, however, as La Roja beat France to first place in the smallest group in the European qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.