5 biggest exclusions from this year’s Ballon d’Or

France Football announced the 30-man shortlist for the 2018 Ballon d’Or this week and the list featured most of the players one would expect to be nominated. However, there were some surprising inclusions and exclusions in the final list. Fox Sports Asia ranks the five most shocking exclusions from this year’s nominees.

5. DAVID DE GEA

Four goalkeepers were included in the final list of nominees for the Ballon d’Or namely – Alisson Becker, Thibaut Courtois, Hugo Lloris and Jan Oblak. There are reasons to include all four goalkeepers that were nominated and even more reasons to include David De Gea in the final list.

David De Gea didn’t win any trophies with Manchester United in 2018 and also didn’t have a great World Cup but his performance at club level was enough to warrant a nomination. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Spaniard, Manchester United’s season could have been much worse.

The 27-year-old picked up his first Golden Glove award at the end of the 2017/18 season and was also named Manchester United’s Fan’s Player of the Year for the fourth time in five years.

Excluding own goals, De Gea conceded 23 league goals last season but based on the Opta xG data for shots he faced, the average goalkeeper would have conceded 37 goals. The difference between expected goals conceded and actual goals conceded (14) was the biggest for any goalkeeper in the Premier League, even more than Lloris and Courtois, who were nominated for the award.

4. LEROY SANE

Leroy Sane was a crucial member of the Manchester City side that won the Premier League last season while breaking numerous records.

The German winger was named the PFA Young Player of the Year for 2017/18 after scoring 10 goals and assisting 15 in the league alone. His league assists tally was bettered only by Kevin De Bruyne in Europe’s Top 5 leagues. In all competitions, he had 14 goals and 19 assists to his name.

In the 2018 calendar year itself, Sane has 7 goals and 12 assists to his name for Manchester City, despite starting the season slowly.

The 22-year-old deserved to be among the nominees just like Sadio Mane and Gareth Bale, who made the cut.

3. CIRO IMMOBILE

When you see Karim Benzema and Mario Mandzukic in the final list of nominees, you can help but wonder how Immobile hasn’t made the cut. The Lazio frontman scored 19 goals more than Benzema and Mandzukic combined at club level last season.

Immobile was in outstanding form last season scoring 41 goals in 47 games for Lazio in all competitions. He shared the Serie A Golden Boot with Mauro Icardi and was also the joint top scorer in the Europa League.

In the calendar year, the Italian forward has 25 goals to his name already and this tally is three more than the total number of goals scored by Mandzukic and Benzema for both club and country. 

2. ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

Roberto Lewandowski is another forward who will feel grave injustice after being left out of the Ballon d’Or nominees. In fact, this year, there isn’t a single Bayern Munich player in the final list of nominees.

Like Immobile, Lewandowski also scored 41 goals last season of which he scored 29 in just 30 league games en route to winning the Bundesliga. Not only did he win the Golden Boot in Bundesliga but he also scored 14 goals more than the league’s second highest goal scorer. That sums up how incredible his goalscoring feat is.

Even though German clubs play fewer league games in a season than teams in France, Italy, Spain and England; the Pole has 28 goals in 32 games in the year 2018. It is no secret that he craves a move away from Bayern and one can’t help wonder if it’s because he hopes to get the recognition he deserves.

1. DAVID SILVA

Aged 32, David Silva is playing some of the best football of his career under Pep Guardiola. The Spaniard racked up 10 goals and 13 assists for Manchester City last season as they won the league and league cup.

Silva missed a few games in the second half of the season due to personal reasons but his performance remained unaffected whenever he was on the pitch. In fact, he was named in the PFA Team of the Year last season for the part he played in Man City’s Premier League triumph.

His exclusion for the Ballon d’Or comes as a huge surprise as he arguably deserved to be in the final 30 more than the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Isco.

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