World XI shortlist shows sharp fall in Premier League numbers
The number of Premier League players considered among the world's best has halved in just three years.
The 55-strong shortlist for the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI was announced on Thursday and contained only 10 players from the English top flight.
Back in 2012, the Premier League boasted 20 names on that list, with that sharp tail-off raising fresh questions of the current quality within the English club game.
Chelsea captain John Terry and Manchester United skipper Wayne Rooney are the only English players to make this year's shortlist, as opposed to three years ago when they were among seven selected.
Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is another shortlisted for this year's team, with the Wales international among 12 former Premier League players named.
Manchester City make up the crux of the current Premier League representatives, with Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero shortlisted.
Reigning champions Chelsea saw Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Eden Hazard included, while Manchester United captain Rooney and David de Gea also made the 55-strong list along with Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez.
In contrast, Real Madrid alone had 12 players on the FIFA FIFPro World XI shortlist, while Bayern Munich had 11 and European champions Barcelona 10.
The award is decided by the players and involves votes from nearly 25,000 professional footballers from an estimated 70 different countries.
Players select one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards, with the final World XI to be announced at the FIFA Ballon d'Or award ceremony on January 11, 2016.
FIFA FIFPro World XI shortlist:
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus), Iker Casillas (Spain, Porto), David De Gea (Spain, Manchester United), Keylor Navas (Costa Rica, Real Madrid), Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich)
Defenders: David Alaba (Austria, Bayern Munich), Jordi Alba (Spain, Barcelona), Daniel Alves (Brazil, Barcelona), Jerome Boateng (Germany, Bayern Munich), Daniel Carvajal (Spain, Real Madrid), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy, Juventus), David Luiz (Brazil, Paris St Germain), Diego Godin (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid), Mats Hummels (Germany, Borussia Dortmund), Branislav Ivanovic (Serbia, Chelsea), Vincent Kompany (Belgium, Manchester City), Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid), Javier Mascherano (Argentina, Barcelona), Pepe (Portugal, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (Brazil, Paris St Germain), John Terry (England, Chelsea), Raphael Varane (France, Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Thiago Alcantara (Spain, Bayern Munich), Xabi Alonso (Spain, Bayern Munich), Sergio Busquets (Spain, Barcelona), Eden Hazard (Belgium, Chelsea), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid), Andrea Pirlo (Italy, New York City FC), Paul Pogba (France, Juventus), Ivan Rakitic (Croatia, Barcelona), James Rodriguez (Colombia, Real Madrid), David Silva (Spain, Manchester City), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Manchester City), Marco Verratti (Italy, Paris St Germain), Arturo Vidal (Chile, Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Argentina, Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Wales, Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid), Douglas Costa (Brazil, Bayern Munich), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Paris St Germain), Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Germany, Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil, Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Netherlands, Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United), Alexis Sanchez (Chile, Arsenal), Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Carlos Tevez (Argentina, Boca Juniors)