Six Italian players are on the initial shortlist for the 2012 Golden Ball, the Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed.
Juventus’ Gigi Buffon, Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo, as well as Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli, Roma’s Daniele De Rossi and Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale, are included in the 53-man preliminary list.
All six players were part of Italy’s march to the Final of Euro 2012 where they lost to Spain. The latter, with 10, are the only country with more nominees than the peninsula.
The 53 players will be cut to 23 on October 30. It will then be down to national team Coaches and captains, as well as journalists, to vote for the winner.
The three finalists will be revealed on November 30, with the winner to be unveiled on January 7.
Italy are well represented in the Coach category as well with Chelsea’s Roberto Di Matteo, Udinese’s Francesco Guidolin, Man City’s Roberto Mancini, Napoli’s Walter Mazzarri, Italy’s Cesare Prandelli and Zenit’s Luciano Spalletti in the frame.
Juventus boss Antonio Conte has not been included as a result, it is thought, of his four-month touchline ban.