France Football have revealed the 30 finalists for the 2017 Ballon d’Or award, with names on the prestigious shortlist slowly released throughout the course of Monday.
The first group of five names saw €222m PSG superstar Neymar, Real Madrid midfield maestro Luka Modric, Juventus hotshot Paulo Dybala, marauding Los Blancos full-back Marcelo and Chelsea dynamo N’Golo Kante nominated.
Barcelona forward Luis Suarez was the first name in the second batch of nominees, followed by Sergio Ramos, Atletico Madrid stopper Jan Oblak, Liverpool creator Philippe Coutinho and star Napoli goalscorer Dries Mertens.
The third group of five was dominated by Premier League players as Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester United’s David de Gea and Tottenham striker Harry Kane joined Roma front man Edin Dzeko and Bayern Munich number nine Robert Lewandowski.
Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann led the fourth group of nominees on Monday afternoon, with Real midfielder Toni Kroos, Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon, Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and Monaco talisman Radamel Falcao.
Five-time winner Lionel Messi was present in the penultimate group of five nominees, as were Borussia Dortmund striker Pierrre-Emerick Aubameyang, prolific PSG goalscorer Edinson Cavani, Bayern centre-back Mats Hummels and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema.
The last five names saw Real superstar Cristiano Ronaldo nominated, with Chelsea favourite Eden Hazard, Milan defender Leonardo Bonucci, Ronaldo’s club colleague Isco and teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe rounding off the full shortlist.
The award, which returned to France Football’s control last year for the first time since 2009 after the magazine’s split with FIFA, is currently held by the aforementioned Ronaldo.No individual other than Ronaldo or Messi have claimed the prize since 2007 when Kaka won after inspiring AC Milan to Champions League glory.It was 2006 the last time neither Ronaldo nor Messi were named in the top three.