Bale joins Messi, Ronaldo on Ballon d'Or shortlist
The Welsh winger became the world's most expensive player when he completed his reported €100 million move from Tottenham to Real Madrid in the close-season, and he has now been included among the 23 names in line for the prestigoius annual prize.
The 24-year-old is joined on the list by Real team-mate Ronaldo and Barcelona star Messi, who headline a glittering array of talent in the running for the award, which will be announced on January 13.
Argentina star Messi has been named as the world's best player for the last four years, while Ronaldo picked up the gong in 2008 and was runner-up in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Both will once again be among the favourites after a year in which Messi inspired Barcelona to the Liga title, while earlier this month Ronaldo became the first player from any of Europe's big five leagues to score 50 goals in the calendar year.
They are joined on the shortlist by a strong contingent from UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich, with Franck Ribery - who was named European football's best player by UEFA for 2012-13 after helping the Germans to an unprecedented treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal - joined by team-mates Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Barcelona also have Xavi, Andres Iniesta and close-season signing Neymar on the list.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva offer representation from French champions Paris Saint-Germain, while Ligue 1 title rivals Monaco have close-season arrival Radamel Falcao included in the 23.
Manchester United striker Robin van Persie heads the list of those from the Premier League, along with Manchester City's Yaya Toure.
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is also in the running, despite a controversial year in which he was banned for 10 matches for his bite on Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, while Stamford Bridge winger Eden Hazard and Arsenal's club-record signing Mesut Ozil also feature.
The shortlist for the coach of the year award was also announced on Tuesday, with Jupp Heynckes among the favourites after masterminding Bayern's successful 2013 before leaving at the end of the season, while Alex Ferguson also received recognition after signing off his long and successful era at Manchester United with the Premier League title.
FIFA Ballon d'Or shortlist: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer, (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Mesut Ozil (Arsenal), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Yaya Touré (Manchester City), Robin Van Persie (Manchester United), Xavi (Barcelona).
FIFA World Coach of the Year shortlist: Carlo Ancelotti (Paris Saint-Germain), Rafael Benítez (Napoli), Antonio Conte (Juventus), Vicente del Bosque (Spain), Alex Ferguson (formerly Manchester United), Jupp Heynckes (formerly Bayern Munich), Jurgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Luiz Felipe Scolari (Brazil), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal.)