THE 30-man shortlist for the 2021 Ballon d’Or award was released by the organisers France Football on Friday.
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Neymar, Karim Benzema, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are among the nominees.
Other top stars on the shortlist include Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe, Luka Modric, Phil Foden and Romelu Lukaku.
A Golden Ball heading in the direction of any of those mentioned above would come as no surprise, but the likes of Euro 2020 winner Jorginho and his Chelsea team-mate Kante also have their sights set on a shock win.
A selection of international journalists, national team coaches and captains will determine the winner, with each voter being asked to pick out their top five.
Once that process has been completed, the prestigious prize will be handed out at a glitzy ceremony in Paris on November 29.
With France Football being forced to take a coronavirus-enforced break from Ballon d’Or duty in 2020, the current holders of the men’s and women’s gongs have reigned for two years.
Messi was the last man to land the male award back in 2019, with the Copa America winner claiming top prize for a record-breaking sixth time.
Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski missed out on succeeding Messi despite enjoying a remarkable run in front of goal last year – with the prolific Pole having to make do with a FIFA Best award.
France Football announced 10-man shortlists for two further awards: the Kopa Trophy, given to the best performing player under the age of 21, and the Yashin Trophy, given to the best goalkeeper.
2021 Ballon d’Or 30-man nominees:
Kevin De Bruyne
Kopa Trophy shortlist:
Mason Greenwood, Bukayo Saka, Pedri, Jeremy Doku, Ryan Gravenberch, Jamal Musiala, Florian Wirtz, Jude Bellingham, Giovanni Reyna, Nuno Mendes
Yashin Trophy shortlist:
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Ederson, Kasper Schmeichel, Edouard Mendy, Keylor Navas, Emiliano Martínez, Manuel Neuer, Jan Oblak, Samir Handanovic.♧
[Courtesy: Complete Sports]