Pitchside

Five players cruelly snubbed on the Ballon d’Or shortlist

Pitchside Europe

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The FIFA Ballon d'Or shortlist has been released, detailing as it does the great and good of football for 2013.

[BALE AMONG BALLON D'OR CONTENDERS]

The likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have all been included, but some outstanding talents, who have been brilliant in the past year, have missed out on football's most prestigious award.

Here are the five players who should have made the Ballon d'Or list.

Juan Mata (Chelsea)

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Premier League Top Assisters Last Season

Juan Mata was sublime for Chelsea last season, picking up the club's Player of the Season award. He scored 12 goals in 35 Premier League matches and created an astonishing 95 chances, assisting 12 times - the second most in the Premier League. He created 30 more chances than the second most creative player at Chelsea, Eden Hazard (who made the Ballon d'Or shortlist).

To put his chance creation into context, Lionel Messi created just 45 and Cristiano Ronaldo managed just 62.

Mata was Chelsea's creative genius, dropping in between the lines of midfield and defence to cause devastating damage. His average passing accuracy was 85% and he scored a third of his goals from outside of the penalty area.

Mata helped Chelsea to finish inside the top four last season, qualifying for the Champions League, whilst also winning the Europa League, beating Benfica 2-1 in the final.

However good Mata was last season, he has been left in the shadows of the Chelsea first team this season by new manager, Jose Mourinho. He has featured just five times this season, scoring none, but creating nine chances.

Marco Reus (Dortmund)

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Marco Reus Bundesliga goals 2013-14

The German helped Borussia Dortmund finish second in the Bundesliga last season and reach the Champions League final, losing out both times to Bayern Munich.

In 32 league matches last term, Reus scored 14 goals and created 59 chances, nine of which were assists.

Reus played in a forward line complete with Mario Goetze, Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski, forming a lethal attack. Reus was also integral to Dortmund's run to the Champions League final that included a late comeback against Malaga and a 4-1 demolition of Real Madrid.

So far this season, the German has scored five goals in 10 Bundesliga matches, assisting four and creating a total of 30 chances.

Arturo Vidal (Juventus)

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Chances created by Arturo Vidal

The Chilean midfielder had a fantastic 2013, winning Serie A with Juventus, reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, as well as qualifying for the World Cup with Chile.

In Serie A last season, Vidal scored 10 goals in 31 matches and created 63 chances - more than both Messi and Ronaldo.

Vidal is a powerful midfield engine and is integral to how Juve play. His midfield partnerships with Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba have had the rest of Europe salivating. Vidal will be an important player for his country and next summer's World Cup. He should feel unlucky not to make the Ballon d'Or shortlist.

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)

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Sergio Busquets Passes v Real Madrid (98% Pass Accuracy)

Busquets is the base of a midfield triangle at Barcelona and allows Andres Iniesta and Xavi to flourish further up the field. His role in the Barca side is hugely important as when the Catalans are in full flow in attack, Busquets drops into central defence, creating a back three with the two centre-backs.

His pass accuracy is sublime, averaging 92% in La Liga last season, and he even made two assists. He also scored from his only shot. Against Real Madrid last week, he only misplaced one of his 50 attempted passes, which is pretty outstanding.

In terms of trophies, though, it was a disappointing season for Barcelona as they only won La Liga. They were humbled 7-0 on aggregate by European champions Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League and were knocked out at the same stage of the Copa del Rey.

Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich)

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Mario Mandzukic goals scored in the Bundesliga this season

Mandzukic led Bayern Munich's forward line throughout their record-breaking 2012/13 season. The Croatian scored 15 goals in 24 Bundesliga matches and has scored seven in 10 matches already this season.

He led the line well, ousting Mario Gomez, and won the Bundesliga, Champions League and the DFB-Pokal. Mandzukic was a key component to a Bayern side that made history, breaking or equalling 30 records in total, including amassing the most points in the Bundesliga, the most wins in a season and enjoying the longest winning streak.

Mandzukic also scored three times for Croatia in 2013, helping them to a World Cup play-off against Iceland.

The Croatian is not one of the biggest names in world football but his achievements and performances over 2013 should merit a place on the Ballon d'Or shortlist.

strong>From Squawka.com - team and player football stats

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