Claude Puel has developed a reputation as a meticulous coach since guiding AS Monaco FC to the 1999/2000 French league title, and he admits picking his Team of the Year provided some consternation. Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo and Manuel Neuer were all left on the bench in a Manchester-accented team with some added spice from FC Barcelona.
View the former Olympique Lyonnais coach's choices below and make your own selection before 12.00CET on Friday 6 January.
Goalkeeper: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United FC)
I hesitated between Van der Sar and Neuer, a very good goalkeeper who also deserves to be chosen. I selected the Dutchman, though, as a reward for his entire career and because he had a very big season. He was one of his best, and bowed out in style.
Right-back: Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München)
Lahm, no hesitation. He is solid defensively and very interesting at the other end of the pitch: a complete, technically skilled full-back.
Central defender: Gerard Piqué (FC Barcelona)
I choose Piqué for his awareness and sense of positioning, his football intelligence and the quality of his distribution.
Central defender: Nemanja Vidić (Manchester United FC)
More of a pure defender than Piqué, but he is also good at instigating attacking moves. I selected him more for his defensive qualities and I think he and Piqué would form a well-balanced partnership.
Left-back: Éric Abidal (FC Barcelona)
I'll give a little mention to my friend Éric. More seriously, he deserves to be recognised after an extraordinary year. He had a serious illness [liver tumour] but managed to return early and take part in the UEFA Champions League victory. I think that's huge. I like players who are solid in all departments: in defensive and attacking terms. He is one of them.
Right midfield: Nani (Manchester United FC)
Nani had a good season and, crucially, he still has room to improve. He still needs consistency but is an interesting player.
Central midfield: Yaya Touré (Manchester City FC)
I will say Touré because I still want a balanced team. Xavi Hernández and Luka Modrić were very good but more in the role of attacking midfielder or runner. Touré is a great anchorman, a real control tower.
Attacking midfield: David Silva (Manchester City FC)
David Silva has really delivered big performances. He launches moves and is also very good at finishing them off. He is City's playmaker and I think he deserves more duties with the Spain team.
Left midfield: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur FC)
I found him quite impressive even if he has specific characteristics since he needs space to add value to his team. He has done great things by proving his ability both as a scorer and goal creator, and he has the physical capacity to run the whole flank, which is just crazy. I like him.
Forward: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
There are many huge players in this list. But THE major player is Messi, with his ability to make a difference at any time. He has a balance in his game between solo runs and one-touch moves. For his age, he has a great maturity: he knows when to dribble and when to pass; he can accelerate; he knows how to play simply and how to function as part of the team. He is the spark that makes the difference.
Forward: Robin van Persie (Arsenal FC)
Even if this will mean two left-sided players in the middle, I want to reward Van Persie for what he has done for quite some time now. He is one of the deadliest strikers in terms of the ratio between minutes played and goals scored, along with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Everything depends on him at Arsenal and he is at the top of his game in terms of maturity and efficiency of movement. He is at his peak.
Coach: Josep Guardiola (FC Barcelona)
Two stand out for me: Sir Alex Ferguson for what he represents and everything he has done at Manchester United over the past 25 years, although there was a sour note earlier this month in the UEFA Champions League, and then there is Guardiola. He wins titles and manages to get his players to retain the same desire to win. That is very tough and that's why I choose him.
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