MANCHESTER United striker Wayne Rooney is the only Englishman on the 23-man shortlist for the prestigious Ballon d’Or.
Rooney has bounced back from an awful 2010, helping to guide United to their record 19th league title, reach their third Champions League final in four seasons and contribute to a rapid start to this campaign before the shuddering derby defeat to Manchester City.
Yet the only other United player listed for the award is Nani, who won his club’s players’ player of the year prize but was surprisingly left out of the starting line-up for the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona at Wembley by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson has been nominated in the coach of the year category, along with Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Only five players on the shortlist have Premier League connections, two of which – Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Aguero – spent only half of 2011 in England – compared to 15 in Spain.
Liverpool’s Luis Suarez has been included and while Manchester City fans will be delighted at the recognition afforded to Aguero, they may be surprised at David Silva’s omission.
European champions Barcelona lead the way with eight nominees, including Lionel Messi, winner for the last two years, with close rivals Real Madrid boasting five.