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Wednesday 20 November 2019

Pool players dominate nominations

ON THE LIST: Sadio Mane. Pic: PA
ON THE LIST: Sadio Mane. Pic: PA

Six Liverpool players were among the first 20 names revealed on the Ballon d'Or shortlist last night.

Sadio Mane was one of the nominees announced early in the prolonged process, and was soon joined by Champions League-winning team-mates Alisson Becker and Georginio Wijnaldum.

There was further recognition for the Anfield club too when Virgil Van Dijk and Roberto Firmino were added to the list, and they were soon joined by Trent Alexander-Arnold. There was further Premier League representation in the form of Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Bernardo Silva, Tottenham pair Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min, and Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Five-times winner Cristiano Ronaldo was also included on what will eventually be a 30-man list, as was his former Real Madrid team-mate Karim Benzema and current club colleague Matthijs De Ligt.

Paris St Germain's World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe also made the cut along with Barcelona's Frenkie De Jong and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Ajax pair Dusan Tadic and Donny Van De Beek, and Bayern Munich's Poland frontman Robert Lewandowski.

Today, when Arsene Wenger blows out the candles on his 70th birthday cake today it will mark 527 days since his final game in charge of Arsenal.

After a 22-year reign as Gunners manager ended with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield after three Premier League trophies, seven FA Cups and an unbeaten 'Invincible' season.

Given those accolades and plenty more besides, many would have expected Wenger to walk into another major job. The links and gossip came and went - Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Everton, France - as Wenger was rumoured to be close to such posts only for someone else to fill the void.

Instead, he has been offered a major job at FIFA, chief of football development.

Despite this, Wenger will still be linked with top coaching jobs in Europe, just like the Manchester United job recently.

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