France Football announced the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d’Or award, and among the nominees are most of the usual suspects expected to make a menu of the sport’s best.
Once the dust settled, though, several big-name players remained noticeably absent from the list.
Here’s a look at the six biggest snubs from the 2019 Ballon d’Or nominees:
Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia)
After ending Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s 10-year reign over football’s most prized individual honor, Modric didn’t make the cut this time around.
He becomes the first player ever to not make the 30-man shortlist the year after winning the Ballon d’Or. However, a look at his 2018-19 campaign might explain why he was excluded. Neither Croatia nor Real Madrid had much to celebrate this past year, unlike the term prior when the midfield maestro surprisingly got the nod.
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain/Brazil)
Like Modric, Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil star Neymar is a big name whose omission drew instant criticism. But perhaps there’s some value to the troublesome thespian’s absence.
PSG’s continental failures mar their admittance into a faction of Europe’s biggest clubs, and the same applies for individual awards, with just Kylian Mbappe and Marquinhos making the cut. Repeated groin and ankle injuries haven’t helped Neymar’s case, nor has a three-match UEFA ban for mocking video review, his punching of a fan, or his injury-related withdrawal from the Copa America. Still, this feels weird.
Andrew Robertson (Liverpool/Scotland)
The omission of Liverpool and Scotland star Robertson must be a clerical error, especially with fellow Reds full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold’s name included in the shortlist.
Not to take anything away from TAA, but Robertson was the better player both domestically and during Liverpool’s Champions League-winning campaign. No other left-back made the 2019 list, so at least there’s that. But with Real Madrid’s Marcelo taking a step back last season, 25-year-old Robertson has arguably become football’s best left-back. Who cares if Scotland sucks.
Harry Kane (Tottenham/England)
Sure, Kane’s ankles are made out of sand and the Tottenham star missed 10 league outings, but have the 120 Ballon d’Or voters completely forgotten about his role in Spurs reaching their first Champions League final?
Kane notched five goals in the marquee tourney – good for joint-fourth-best – to go along with his 17 tallies in the Premier League, and he was the focal point of a Spurs side that reached previously unseen heights. The 26-year-old’s now-cultured skill set is a symbol of a well-balanced player whose virtues are always reflected on the stat sheet. The England man belongs on this list over Joao Felix.
Ederson (Manchester City/Brazil)
Deserved nominee Alisson may have been Brazil’s No. 1 choice between the pegs for a successful Copa America, but surely Ederson should get a nod if only for his club form.
Ederson made the PFA Team of the Year for 2018-19, played in all 38 league affairs for title winners Manchester City, and made seven appearances between the FA Cup and League Cup, both of which Pep Guardiola’s charges won as part of their unprecedented domestic treble. Hugo Lloris making the list over Ederson is a joke.
Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich/Germany)
Only Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski made the 30-man list from the top flight of German football, and while names like Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Thiago deserve a shout, Kimmich stands out.
Capable of playing at right-back or in various midfield roles, Kimmich is Bayern’s Alleskonner, a do-everything glue guy with few limitations. Kimmich played in all but two of Bayern’s league matches last season, was instrumental in the team’s Champions League efforts, and was vital to Nico Kovac’s acclimation to filling Jupp Heynckes sizable lederhosen. He’s one of football’s overlooked stars.
Honorable mention: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/France), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid/Slovenia), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City/France), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund/England), Luis Suarez (Barcelona/Uruguay)