Football Features

A combined XI of players who can be most disappointed with their Fifpro snub

By Steve Jennings

Published: 11:26, 6 September 2019

As usual, this year’s 55-man Fifpro World XI shortlist consists of the best footballers on the planet, with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid all heavily represented.

However, there are number of players on the list who perhaps aren’t deserving of a place compared to some of the names left out.

Several stars who have played vital roles in trophy wins and have significantly contributed to other achievements throughout the year didn’t make the grade, failing to receive enough nominations to be on the shortlist.

We’ve decided to shine the spotlight on those unlucky players, putting together a Fifpro Snubbed XI – and we’ve even added some substitutes.

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Goalkeeper: Andre Onana (Ajax)

Onana is the first of a few Ajax players unfortunate to miss out. The goalkeeper played a big part in Ajax’s incredible journey to the Champions League semi-finals last season. He saved 75.47% of the shots thrown at him in the competition, a better rate than David De Gea (71.88%) and Ederson (63.64%), both of whom are on the shortlist.

What’s more, no goalkeeper kept more clean sheets (16) in the Eredivisie last season than Onana.

Right-back: Noussair Mazraoui (Ajax)

The second Ajax player on our list is a right-back who won more tackles (37) than any other defender in the Champions League last season. Mazraoui was one of the unsung stars of Erik ten Hag’s side, which perhaps explains his absence from the shortlist.

He also made 21 interceptions in Europe last term; no defender made more. The 21-year-old missed out on a nomination to other right-backs such as Dani Alves, Dani Carvajal and Joao Cancelo.

Centre-back: Joel Matip (Liverpool)

Joe Gomez started 2018/19 as Virgil van Dijk’s centre-back partner, but injury soon disrupted his season. As a result, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren spent much of the campaign battling to stay in the starting line-up, and it was Matip who finished the season stronger.

Indeed, the Cameroonian helped Liverpool keep clean sheets against Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur in the final two matches of a famous Champions League run. Van Dijk, an obvious nominee, has the commanding presence to make any partner look good, but Matip deserves recognition for his contribution.

Centre-back: Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)

Of Spurs’ two Belgian centre-backs, Toby Alderweireld has often been referred to as the better player in recent years. But Vertonghen has matured brilliantly after entering his 30s, with many Spurs fans now referring to him as the club’s best defender.

There’s good reason for that. His ability to play at left-back, as he did to stunning affect against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League round of 16 last term, is a manager’s dream – although his relationship with Mauricio Pochettino hasn’t been the best of late. Still, that shouldn’t halt talk of the 32-year-old’s excellent 2019.

Left-back: Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax)

Tagliafico was a relatively late bloomer. He spent the first half of his 20s in his native Argentina – bar the odd season on loan at Real Murcia – before moving to Ajax, where he has slotted in perfectly under Ten Hag. The left-back scored three goals in 12 Champions League games last season, outshining the competition’s more established left-sided defenders.

The 27-year-old, who won a total of 20 tackles in the competition, will be frustrated to see the usual suspects such as Marcelo on the list after Ajax eased past Real Madrid in the last 16.

Central midfield: Fernandinho (Man City)

Fernandinho was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year in 2018/19, but there is no room for him on the Fifpro shortlist. He may be knocking on, but the 34-year-old’s importance is emphasised by the fact Manchester City spent big on Rodri this summer to make sure the team still functions properly when Fernandinho is unavailable.

With his contract expiring next summer, this was probably Fernandinho’s last chance to be named in the final world XI.

Central midfield: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

When one thinks of the best players on the planet, Jordan Henderson might not immediately spring to mind. But the former Sunderland midfielder is now a Champions League-winning captain, and his tweaked role last season gave him the freedom to have a huge impact for Liverpool domestically and in Europe.

Again, Henderson will be disappointed to be ranked behind Real Madrid trio Casemiro, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, all of whom have been uninspiring in 2019 despite their obvious class.

Attacking midfield: David Silva (Man City)

Not a lot can be said about David Silva that hasn’t been said already. The Spaniard is one of Europe’s most consistent midfielders, refusing to let his game change with age. This will be his last season at Manchester City, and the Etihad faithful will be waving goodbye to a bonafide club legend.

Only Eden Hazard (1,005) made more successful passes into the final third than David Silva (774) last season. The Spaniard was a crucial cog in the City machine once again.

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Forward: Hakim Ziyech (Ajax)

Ajax received at least some recognition for their attacking play with Dusan Tadic making his way onto the list. The Serbian scored a remarkable 38 goals in his debut season in Amsterdam, but his teammate Ziyech surely also deserves a nod.

Ziyech scored 21 goals, including five in the Champions League; one of which was as stunner against Spurs in the semi-finals. He also provided 14 assists in the Eredivisie in 2018/19, more than any other player.

Forward: Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)

Jadon Sancho in action for Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal first round

Last season was the year Sancho introduced himself as a potentially world-class talent. His 17 assists in the Bundesliga was a league-high, and the 19-year-old finished the campaign with 13 goals in all competitions.

He has started this season in red hot form, with two goals and three assists in three Bundesliga appearances. This year also saw Sancho become a regular for the senior England national team. Despite missing out on the Fifpro shortlist, we’re sure to see his name on future lists for years to come.

Forward: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Aubameyang is the only player in our XI who didn’t play in the Champions League last season. But his quality in 2019 suggests he is a striker who belongs in Europe’s elite competition. The former Dortmund star shared the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals last term and scored a hat-trick in the Europa League semi-finals.

He could do little to prevent a Chelsea win in the Europa League final, but he has started the new campaign promisingly and will hope to be on the 55-man shortlist in 2020 if he can carry his form into the New Year.


Kepa Arrizabalaga, Toby Alderweireld, Georginio Wijnaldum, Bruno Fernandes, Marco Reus, Lucas Moura, Luka Jovic.

Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga helped Chelsea triumph in the Europa League, while Toby Alderweireld was very nearly a Champions League winner. Georginio Wijnaldum stunned Barcelona with two goals in a famous European night at Anfield and could have easily been a nominee.

Bruno Fernandes scored 31 goals in all competitions for Sporting last season and Marco Reus almost captained Dortmund to Bundesliga glory. A stunning hat-trick in the Champions League semi-finals wasn’t enough for Lucas Moura to be nominated, while Luka Jovic‘s goal return for Frankfurt might have been recognised in another year.