Atsu, Dede not among the 23-man shortlist for FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015

Andre Ayew and Christian Atsu have both missed out on the official nomination for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the best footballer in the world, after the 23-man shortlist for 2015 was revealed.

The Ghanaian duo who have both also been nominated for the 2015 Africa footballer of the year gong, were initially rumoured to be on an unofficial 59-man list of nominated players for the award, which is ultimately decided by the captains and head coaches of national teams as well as media representatives.

In the event, Manchester City star, Yaya Toure who led the Ivory Coast to defeat the Black Stars of Ayew and Atsu in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Equatorial Guinea back in January remains the only African player on the 23-man shortlist still in contention to be named the best footballer in this calendar year at the awards gala on January 11 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, winner the past two years, and four-time winner Lionel Messi of Barcelona are once again set to compete for the top prize, with the duo sharing the top two spots since 2011.

All 23 candidates play their football in Europe, with 11 players plying their trade in La Liga, five in the Premier League, five in the Bundesliga and just the one nomination from both Ligue 1 and Serie A.

German champions Bayern Munich have five candidates for the top prize, while Madrid are the next closest with four.

World Cup 2014 finalists Argentina and Germany are the best represented nations in the list with Messi, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Aguero, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer all featuring.