Who are Ballon d'Or 2017 nominees? Messi, Ronaldo and 30 stars of football

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The shortlist for this year's award brings together the best footballers in the world - but can any player break Ronaldo and Messi's monopoly?

  1. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)

    The 2016-17 season was in many ways a breakout campaign for Coutinho. His excellent performances in Anfield established him as a star playmaker and also attracted the attention of none other than Barcelona, who moved mountains in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to take him from the Reds.
  2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Dortmund)

    The Gabon international has been a mainstay of Dortmund's team both in the Bundesliga and Champions League, and it is no surprise to see him included on the shortlist. With rumours that he is unhappy at BVB, however, will this be his last year at the club?
  3. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

    The Belgian midfielder is the heart of Pep Guardiola's City team, the metronome that ensures the rest of the unit never misses a beat. De Bruyne has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season, creating a formidable partnership with David Silva that has proved almost unplayable.
  4. David de Gea (Manchester United)

    Few players in the current United squad are as crucial to their success as the extraordinary goalkeeper. De Gea gave another glimpse of his importance in early December with an incredible 14 saves to frustrate Arsenal and, along with Buffon and Neuer, is up there with the best shot-stoppers in the world.
  5. Paulo Dybala (Juventus)

    Widely considered Lionel Messi's heir in Argentina - and Barcelona - it is easy to see why Dybala is so highly rated. At just 24 he has become indispensable in Turin, and has played a key part in Juve's last two Scudetti.
  6. Radamel Falcao (Monaco)

    Falcao's return to form after an injury nightmare has been one of the most heart-warming stories of 2017. The Colombian played a starring role as Monaco upset PSG and took a shock Ligue 1 title.
  7. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

    Benzema has struggled to find his best form so far in 2017-18. But the forward played a huge part in Real Madrid's Champions League triumph and more than merits inclusion among the nominees.
  8. Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan)

    The defender was the protagonist of one of this summer's most surprising transfers, after he switched Juventus for AC Milan. Previously, Bonucci's consistently brilliant defending helped the Bianconeri to their sixth consecutive Serie A title, establishing him as one of the world's premier centre-backs.
  9. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)

    Juve's veteran shot-stopper is by some distance the oldest nominee, but there is little argument over his inclusion. A failure to guide Italy to the World Cup takes nothing from another wonderful season between the posts, and at 39 he is still among the elite.
  10. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid)

    The France international has seen his form dip in the first few months of the current season. But class is permanent, and heroics like his role in downing Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals have made him an idol with Atletico.
  11. Eden Hazard (Belgium)

    Hazard spearheaded Chelsea's Premier League title run last season in Antonio Conte's first term as manager. Adept both at scoring and creating goals, the Belgian is a favourite at Stamford Bridge.
  12. Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich)

    The defender broke Dortmund hearts in 2016 when he opted for a move back to his boyhood club. It is easy to see why Bayern wanted their former trainee so desperately: he has settled instantly into the club's backline and played a big part in yet another Bundesliga title.
  13. Isco (Real Madrid)

    While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale get much of the limelight at the Bernabeu, no few observers believe Isco is the real brains of the team. The ex-Malaga wonderkid consolidated his place in the first team during 2017 and was crucial to their Champions League success.
  14. Edinson Cavani (PSG)

    There are few players in the game that compare to Cavani when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net. Even with the acquisitions of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe he remains PSG's principal scoring threat, and has already smashed 23 goals this season in an almost flawless start to 2017-18 for the Ligue 1 giants.
  15. Harry Kane (Tottenham)

    At 24 Kane is England's big hope as they seek success at next year's World Cup. Another fine year at Spurs has seen him touted as Ronaldo's Madrid successor, and he continued to hit the net on a regular basis.
  16. N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

    A player that rarely makes the headlines, but who has been sorely missed by Chelsea whenever unavailable. Kante has lifted the Premier League in each of the last two seasons and is now considered among the very best defensive midfielders in the game.
  17. Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)

    Another of the seven Merengue stars that were included in this year's Ballon d'Or shortlist. Kroos' razor-sharp passing and vision means he is the creative genius behind this vintage Madrid side.
  18. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

    The Poland forward took his nation to the World Cup in 2017 and also continued Bayern's Bundesliga dominance with a typically unerring campaign in front of goal. 
  19. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)

    Another Liverpool star who achieved great things over the last 12 months. Mane has become the regular goalscorer Anfield had been crying out for since Luis Suarez left, and also played a pivotal role in taking Senegal to Russia 2018.
  20. Edin Dzeko (Roma)

    The ex-Manchester City star beat out the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Mauro Icardi to become Serie A's top scorer in 2016-17, smashing an impressive 29 goals and helping Roma to the Champions League.
  21. Marcelo (Real Madrid)

    The finest left-back in the game right now, bar none. Marcelo's attacking incursions from out wide have been a signature feature of Madrid's play since he joined in 2007, and he only seems to get better with every season that passes.
  22. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

    The real revelation of 2017. Mbappe began the year as just another budding, if talented, youngster in the Monaco team; by August he was becoming the most expensive teenager in history with a move to PSG. He earned that transfer with a series of wonderful performances at home and in the Champions League, form he has maintained since going to Parc des Princes.
  23. Dries Mertens (Napoli)

    If this Ballon d'Or nominee list is anything to go by, Belgium should be expecting a stunning World Cup. Mertens joins compatriots Hazard and De Bruyne in making the cut, earning the nod thanks to another excellent term at Napoli.
  24. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

    No man in history can match the five Ballons d'Or lifted by Barcelona's Argentine wizard. Messi has started the Liga season in typically electric form, scoring 13 goals in 14 games to lift his side to the top - and, perhaps, give his own chances of landing the award a late boost.
  25. Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

    Of all the countless big-name signings Madrid have made in recent years, it is the relatively unheralded Modric who has perhaps proved the best value for money. The Croatian has never been less than flawless in the Merengue shirt, controlling the centre of the pitch with admirable consistency.
  26. Neymar (PSG)

    The world's most expensive player, Neymar has cemented his reputation as a future Ballon d'Or winner with an excellent start to life at Parc des Princes. The Brazilian has netted 15 times in 17 games for PSG, picking up right where he left off with the Catalans.
  27. Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

    While Griezmann scores the goals for Atletico, it is their Slovenian goalkeeper who marshals one of the continent's most fearsome defensive units. His penalty saves in particular have made him a hero in Diego Simeone's team.
  28. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

    Love him or loathe him, there is no questioning the importance of combative Ramos to Real Madrid's recent success. The Spain centre-back is a fierce defender, and also adept at scoring extremely crucial goals when his team need a late boost from set-pieces.
  29. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

    The reigning award holder, Ronaldo is looking to draw level with Messi by taking his fifth Ballon d'Or title this year. After finishing the 2016-17 Champions League campaign in astonishing fashion there are few who would begrudge him another win, even if his form so far this season has fallen below his usual sky-high standards.
  30. Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

    The Uruguayan lives to score goals, and is one of the few footballers on the planet capable of matching the numbers posted by Messi and Ronaldo. He has so far struggled in 2017-18, but smashed 37 goals in all competition last season and remains a top-class striker.