Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic,Gareth Bale,Antoine Griezmann,Sergio Aguero, and Gonzalo Higuain amongst a host of others have been named as nominees for this year’s Ballon d’Or as disclosed by France Football.
Usual suspects like Barcelona’s trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Andres Iniesta were also announced among the 30-man short list later in the day, but there were also some new entrants like Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez both of whom were pivotal in Leicester City’s Premier League triumph last season.
Ronaldo, 31, is widely regarded as one of the favourites for the 2016 award after winning both the Champions League with Real Madrid and Euro 2016 with Portugal.
The former Manchester United player, who has already picked up the honour three times, finished as runner-up to Lionel Messi last year.
Bale, 27, was also a key player of Madrid’s Champions League-winning team and helped Wales to an unexpected semifinal place at Euro 2016, where they were beaten by Ronaldo’s Portugal.
Aguero, 28, struck 24 times in the Premier League last season as Manchester City finished fourth, reaching the 100-goal mark in the English top flight in the process.
Juventus and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon, 38, and Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 27, were the other two nominees to be named first.
Buffon helped Juve to the Serie A title and the Coppa Italia last season, while Aubameyang scored 36 goals in all competitions for Dortmund.
City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, Juventus duo Paulo Dybala and Higuain, and Atletico Madrid pair Diego Godin and Griezmann were the next five nominees to be announced by France Football from the 30-strong list.
United striker Ibrahimovic, Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta, Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, Atletico captain Koke and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski followed later on Monday, with more names to be revealed throughout the day.
Higuain netted 36 Serie A goals for Napoli last term before securing a big-money move to Juve, while France international Griezmann was top scorer at Euro 2016 and helped Atletico reach the Champions League final.
Ibrahimovic scored 38 Ligue 1 goals last season as Paris Saint-Germain won the domestic Treble before moving to United in the summer, with Lewandowski’s 30 Bundesliga goals helping Bayern do the domestic Double in Germany.
After six years during which the Ballon d’Or was awarded in conjunction with FIFA, replacing the governing body’s World Player of the Year prize, the most prestigious individual honour in football will revert to its original roots.
Presented for the first time in 1956 when it was won by England international Sir Stanley Matthews, the Ballon d’Or — the brainchild of France Football — will no longer be voted for by a combined group of national team coaches, captains and international media, with only journalists now getting a vote.
The list of nominees, increased this year from 23 to 30, and will not be reduced to a final shortlist of three as it had been the usual process in the last couple of years.
The winner and the final placings will be announced by France Football on December 13.
The Ballon d’Or Nominees:
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Dimitri Payet (West Ham), Pepe , Paul Pogba (Juventus/Manchester United), Rui Patricio (Sporting), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich)
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