Ronaldo, Messi headline 30-man Ballon d'Or nominees list
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, combined nine-time winners, led a 30-man shortlist for 2017 Ballon d'Or announced on Monday by France Football magazine.
Ronaldo spearheaded Real Madrid for double titles of La Liga and UEFA Champions League for the first time during the past 59 years, which would give him huge bonus for the award, in terms of no major national team tournaments such as World Cup and European Championship in 2017.
Cristiano Ronaldo.[File Photo: Xinhua]
Ronaldo took away the laurel three times in the past four years except 2015, when Messi won. The Argentine topped the winning list with five times. He and Ronaldo combined to win in every year since 2007.
As Ronaldo struggled to look for his first league goal this season after serving a five-match suspension at the start, Messi has tallied 11 goals so far in the campaign.
However, for the two arch rivals, the priority ahead was to secure spots in the 2018 World Cup finals.
Ronaldo came off the bench to help Portugal snatch three points from minnow Andorra, but the team still needed to beat leaders Switzerland on Tuesday for an automatic qualification to Russia.
Things are tougher for Messi's Argentina, currently ranked sixth in South American qualifiers, as they strive for a victory in the final round to at least keep themselves alive in the playoffs.
Lionel Messi.[File Photo: Xinhua]
Real Madrid took up seven nominees including Ronaldo. Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain also saw their attacking trio of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe among the nominees.
Founded in 1956 by France Football magazine, Ballon d'Or was merged with FIFA World Player of the Year into FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010, before the two awards were separated in 2016.
Following are the 30 nominees for the 2017 Ballon d'Or:
Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Marcelo (Real Madrid), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), David De Gea (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Edin Dzeko (Roma), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Isco (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain).