Bale, Ronaldo, Messi, Toure nominated for footballer of the year award

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Wales forward Gareth Bale is the only player from the home nations on the 23-man shortlist for the Fifa 2014 men’s world footballer of the year award.

Bale, 25, scored 22 goals for Real Madrid last season, as the La Liga side won the Champions League.

Five Premier League players in Thibaut Courtois, Diego Costa, Angel Di Maria, Eden Hazard and Yaya Toure have also been nominated for the Ballon d’Or.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to retain the award.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who has won the award three times in the last four years, is also on the shortlist, alongside team-mate Neymar.

The 23 shortlist will be reduced to three in December before the winners are announced on 12 January, 2015 in Zurich.

There is no place for Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, who played a crucial role in helping Uruguay qualify for the last 16 in Brazil but was suspended from all football-related activity for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Suarez’s suspension meant that under Fifa rules, the 27-year-old, who was the Premier League’s top scorer with 31 goals in 33 matches for Liverpool last year, was not eligible for the shortlist.

In terms of Premier League clubs, Chelsea have the most players on the list with three – Courtois, Costa and Hazard, with Manchester United (Di Maria) and Manchester City (Toure) each supplying one.

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich players dominate the list, with each club supplying six players.

World Cup winners Germany have the most players nominated with six, with Spain and Argentina three apiece and France and Belgium two each.

Wales, Portugal, Sweden, Brazil, Netherlands, Colombia and Ivory Coast each have one of their players in contention.

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