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Wales winger Gareth Bale joins Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among the leading contenders for *FIFA's Ballon d'Or award. *The 23-man shortlist for the prestigious world player of the year award was today, with the winner to be unveiled on January 13 in Zurich.
Barcelona forward Messi has won the award for the last four years, with Bale's Madrid team-mate Ronaldo consistently his nearest challenger.
Meanwhile Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has called for patience as fans wait to see the best of Bale following his record-breaking summer move.
Bale has yet to set the Primera Division alight following his 100million euros transfer from Tottenham and, with the Wales forward battling to return to full fitness, he is also still to complete a whole match for his new club.
He was named in the starting line-up for Saturday's Clasico against Barcelona but was replaced an hour into the 2-1 loss.
"In the last few games he hasn't done extraordinary things, but a player who arrives at a new team, in a new culture, needs time to adapt," said Ancelotti.
"The problem the player has is of adaptation. It's not the same to play in Spain as in England."
Ancelotti also laughed off any suggestion that Bale's price tag had an influence on his decision to start him against Barca.