Football

Fifa snub for EPL-based players

No Premier League-based players have been selected for the 2016 World XI to be announced at this morning's (Singapore time) inaugural The Best Fifa Awards ceremony in Zurich.

Organised by FIFPro, the body that represents players' associations from 69 countries, the team are decided by professional footballers, with 26,516 voting this year.

The absence of any Premier League talent in the team comes despite English and Welsh clubs providing the most votes, a record 1,884.

Manchester United's Paul Pogba, however, missed out on one of the three midfield berths by an agonising two votes, the smallest margin in the award's 12-year history - a count FIFPro verified with a Dutch-based public notary.

The Frenchman, the world's most expensive player, made the team in 2015 for his all-action displays for Juventus.

Premier League-based players have made the team 24 times, a distant second to the 80 selections for the Spanish top flight, with La Liga expected to dominate the 2016 selection.

Argentine winger Angel di Maria was chosen for the 2014 team and Brazilian defender David Luiz made the 2013 side, but both played in two countries in those years.

The last two English-based players to make the team having spent the entire year at a Premier League club were Manchester United duo Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic in 2011.

LAST ENGLISHMAN

Rooney, who equalled Sir Bobby Charlton's Manchester United goalscoring record last Saturday, is the last Englishman to be honoured in this way by his global peers, but failed to make the 55-strong shortlist this year for the first time.

The only Englishman on the list was Jamie Vardy, who finished 13th out of 15 forwards in the voting.

Wales and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale was the only other British player in the reckoning, coming seventh in the same category.

In total, 15 Premier League players were on the shortlist and, if only English votes counted, Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne would have made the final team but the wider electorate had him as the ninth-best midfielder last season.

These results underline the remarkable contrast between the Premier League's global popularity, as evidenced by its huge broadcasting revenues, and the apparent quality gap with Spain, whose clubs have dominated European club competitions in recent years.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have confirmed Lionel Messi will not be attending the ceremony in Switzerland, increasing the expectations Cristiano Ronaldo will claim the Men's Player prize.

Argentine playmaker Messi was on a three-man shortlist for the accolade along with Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.

However, Barcelona issued a statement yesterday morning, saying their nominated players would instead be focusing on preparations for the upcoming Copa del Rey tie against Athletic Bilbao at the Nou Camp on Thursday morning, with officials set to represent the Spanish giants. - PA SPORT

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