The 30-man shortlist for the 2017 Ballon d’Or award was announced on Monday and, while there are many familiar names in the running, there were also plenty who would have been left scratching their heads wondering what more they need to do.
For every Cristiano Ronaldo, there is a Gareth Bale. Every Harry Kane, there is a Diego Costa.
And while we have nothing against the 30 players nominated by France Football, FOX Sports Asia picks our best XI from those that have been unlucky not to get a nod.
GK: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid)
For a player who was on the verge of being a makeweight in a transfer bid for David de Gea, Keylor Navas deserves plenty of credit for the way he’s made number one jersey at Real Madrid his own.
So you wanna tell me that Oblak, Benzema and Falcao made it to 30 shortlist but not Keylor Navas….. okay. Nah cool.
— ب (@Bkriiii) October 9, 2017
Granted, he is not the most imposing of specimens but is easily on par with the world’s best when it comes to most other aspects of goalkeeping.
After helping Los Blancos to back-to-back Champions League crowns, one would have expected the Costa Rican to gain recognition with a nomination at the very least.
RB: Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)
Like Navas, Dani Carvajal has also spent much of his time at Real doing an excellent job without getting as much credit as he deserves.
— FOX Sports Asia (@FOXSportsAsia) October 7, 2017
Considering only four defenders were nominated, none of which were right-backs, Carvajal’s omission is all the more peculiar.
CB: Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
The epitome of consistency when it comes to centre-backs for at least the past five years, Giorgio Chiellini’s unassuming nature is the main reason why he does not garner as many plaudits as the likes of Sergio Ramos or Thiago Silva.
Squawka names Gerard Pique 2nd best central defender in European football right now after Giorgio Chiellini. pic.twitter.com/lGVgiZcF7T
— BarçaSpiral (@BarcaSpiral) October 8, 2017
In the past six seasons, the veteran has been an important member of a defence that has conceded no more than 30 goals each campaign, a huge reason behind Juventus’ recent dominance in Italian football.
CB: Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid)
It is usually Antoine Griezmann, Koke and Saul who steal the headlines for Atletico Madrid, but one constant in the side that has been there since 2010 has been Diego Godin.
PRT: Diego Godin is, perhaps, the only CB on that list i agree with in the position. Pique and Ramos remain overrated.
— 🦇Gwyn🦇 (@gwynniepeg) October 9, 2017
The Uruguayan was named in year’s Champions League Squad of the Season and, while he is clearly valued at Atletico, certainly deserves more recognition from those outside the club.
LB: Alex Sandro (Juventus)
After wresting the left-back spot at Juventus from Patrice Evra, Alex Sandro has grown from strength to strength and has to be one of the world’s best in his position at the moment.
Alex Sandro will renew his contract at the end of November, He will sign until 2022 with a salary of €5m per-year. [GdS] pic.twitter.com/ZirUYUJZyJ
— Forza Juventus (@ForzaJuve2017) October 7, 2017
If not for Marcelo, the Brazilian would easily be first-choice for his country as well but, at 26, he still has time on his side.
DM: Casemiro (Real Madrid)
Obviously, playing in an unglamorous position means it is perhaps understandable why Casemiro was overlooked, but he arguably does as effective a job as Chelsea anchorman N’Golo Kante.
2012: Sao Paulo 👶🏽
2013: Real Madrid B 🇪🇸
2014: Porto loan 🇵🇹
2016: Wins UCL with Real🏆
2017: Named Brazil captain 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/V53w1k11Qr
— Footy Jokes (@Footy_Jokes) October 4, 2017
Arriving at the Bernabeu as a virtual unknown, the 25-year-old has since established himself as a key member of Zinedine Zidane’s side and even helped himself to six goals in 42 appearances last season, four more than Kante managed.
CM: Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich)
Xabi Alonso was one of the best playmakers of his generation but, since his retirement, his absence has hardly been felt at Bayern Munich, largely owing to one Thiago Alcantara.
the best 3 midfield players are thiago alcantara & verratti & coutinho don't argue please
— 👑' (@AboodJunior_) October 6, 2017
Granted, the Bundesliga giants have not had the best of starts to 2017/18 but that is through no fault of their Spanish midfielder, who is promising to take the next step in his career and be a world-beater.
CM: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
There were plenty who felt that Paul Pogba perhaps underachieved in his first season back at Manchester United, but there can be no denying how important he was to the club winning two trophies and securing a return to the Champions League.
— Tanner Martin (@tannermartingy1) October 9, 2017
Before his recent injury, the Frenchman had also started the 2017/18 campaign on fire and has every reason to be aggrieved by the snub from France Football.
RF: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Till today, Allan Simonsen remains Denmark’s sole Ballon d’Or winner but, if anyone from the current generation is going to emulate him, it is Christian Eriksen.
Christian Eriksen has been involved in 8 goals in his last 4 games for Denmark in European World Cup qualifying.
4 goals ⚽️
4 assists 🅰️ pic.twitter.com/Xj3Q4uhZOJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 5, 2017
The 25-year-old perhaps needs to win a major trophy before he can be seriously taken for consideration, but he clearly has all the talent and drive required to achieve even something greats like Michael Laudrup and Peter Schmeichel did not come close to achieving.
LF: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
How someone who netted 30 goals in 51 games playing in one of Europe’s biggest leagues remains a mystery, especially given that Alexis Sanchez not only delivers the goods but he does it in style.
Alexis Sanchez 16/17:
Total Games: 55
Someone please explain why FIFA didn't include him in top 30 list?
— shubhám. (@IukeModric) October 9, 2017
Like Eriksen, Sanchez is yet to taste major success at Arsenal apart from a couple of FA Cups, but who knows?
Should he finally get his big-money move in the coming months, he could just be in the reckoning when the next list is announced in 12 months’ time.
CF: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
For someone who had his position at Manchester City threatened by a young upstart, Sergio Aguero certainly did well to finish last season with 33 goals from 45 games and then start the new campaign with seven in eight.
Sanchez didn't make the list.
Aguero didn't make the list.
Higuain didn't make the list.
Aduriz didn't make the list.
Benzema did 😂😂😂😂😂
— VoN (@frenemic) October 9, 2017
A recent car accident may have sidelined him but legendary French forward Thierry Henry recently stated his belief that Aguero is the only true “world-class” striker in the Premier League.
It’s just a shame some of Henry’s compatriots did not share that view.