FIFPro have revealed their 23-man shortlist of the world’s best footballers for 2021 and there are one or two notable omissions.
The biggest is perhaps Mohamed Salah, who is one of only four players in 2021 to register over 20 goals and over 10 assists in Europe’s top five leagues.
His return of 23 finishes and 11 assists puts him fourth for most direct goal contributions for that particular metric, behind only Kylian Mbappe (35, 24 goals and 11 assists), Lionel Messi (36, 24 goals and 12 assists) and Karim Benzema (39, 28 goals and 11 assists).
FIFA named their 23-man squad of football’s best players on Tuesday afternoon, with PSG, Chelsea and Barcelona all enjoying the biggest representation of any club (four apiece). Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Real Madrid had two each, while Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Bayern Munich all had one inclusion.
The squad was voted for by the players themselves and will be condensed into the ‘World XI’ next month during The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony. The Premier League contingent was prominent this year, with 10 of the 23 listed currently playing in England.
Champions League winners Chelsea saw Edouard Mendy, Jorginho, N’Golo Kante and Romelu Lukaku all included, while Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo made the cut for Man Utd; Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker got in for Liverpool; and Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias received the nod for City.
Perhaps surprisingly, 38-year-old Dani Alves made it into the squad, with the eight-time ‘World XI’ inductee recently leaving Sao Paulo in his homeland and returning to Barcelona, whom he is yet to play for since making that sensational Camp Nou reunion.
For the first time in nearly two decades, FIFA have moved away from their usual 55-man shortlist and opted for a more truncated selection process to mimic the real-life scenario of a club playing squad, before eventually whittling down the nominees to a combined ‘World XI’.
Twelve of the 23 selected have actually been named in the ‘World XI’ before. Alisson, Alexander-Arnold and De Bruyne all made it into 2020’s edition, while Messi and Ronaldo are naturally regulars in this domain, placing in the annual team 14 times each.
World XI: FIFPro’s 23-man squad
|Gianluigi Donnarumma||AC Milan/Paris Saint-Germain||Italy|
|David Alaba||Bayern Munich/Real Madrid||Austria|
|Dani Alves||Sao Paulo/Barcelona||Brazil|
|Ruben Dias||Man City||Portugal|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Man City||Belgium|
|Bruno Fernandes||Man Utd||Portugal|
|Frenkie de Jong||Barcelona||Netherlands|
|Karim Benzema||Real Madrid||France|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Juventus/Man Utd||Portugal|
|Erling Haaland||Borussia Dortmund||Norway|
|Robert Lewandowski||Bayern Munich||Poland|
|Romelu Lukaku||Inter Milan/Chelsea||Belgium|
|Kylian Mbappe||Paris Saint-Germain||France|
|Lionel Messi||Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain||Argentina|
Salah, who is yet to place in the ‘World XI’, will be once again be overlooked for a coveted spot in next month’s team after he was snubbed for the 23-man squad, leading to plenty of confused fans and pundits, particularly as Alves got the nod…
No Mo Salah and Dani Alves is on this list..
— Matt Craig (@MattHDGamer) December 14, 2021
These things are getting soo weird & should be a matter of concern.
23 Nominated Players have been announced for the FIFA Pro Xl & Out of Nowhere Dani Alves, Busquets, Neymar & De jong made it into the list ffs!!😑
obviously No Muller, kimmich, Barella, Chiesa & Mo Salah pic.twitter.com/t3bssyw0o3
— 𝑁𝑎𝑖𝑚𝑢𝑟𝑆ℎ𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑛 (@NaimurSharon) December 14, 2021
4 Barcelona players (plus Messi) make it into the FIFA World XI squad, with just 1 Bayern Munich player, 2 Man City players and no place for Mohamed Salah. Funny. https://t.co/Wpifg48lco
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) December 14, 2021
No Kane or Salah but Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets were included.
You can't take these awards seriously anymore. They're a joke. https://t.co/1DefV60elR
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) December 14, 2021
📨 The 23 players with the most votes for the 2021 FIFA FIFPRO Men’s World 11. Somehow doesn't include Mohamed Salah… pic.twitter.com/Al3FCz3HUA
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) December 14, 2021
"Leave out Salah, Rudiger, and Courtois"
"Now tweet it with Dani Alves and Jordi Alba" pic.twitter.com/G4SDJv6ScN
— 𝔼𝕌ℝ𝕆 (@EuroExpert_) December 14, 2021
Dani Alves but Salah not present in 2021.
— Ayan Banerjee (@_ronty_) December 14, 2021
Whoever picks these players is living in the past. Dani Alves, Alba and Buesquets shouldnt be anywhere near this.
— RunkeGlenn (@RunkeGlenn) December 14, 2021