Ballon d'Or 2017: Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo among 30 nominees
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi lead an illustrious list of 30 players nominated for the 2017 Ballon d'Or award.
The full list of top footballers was revealed across Monday by organisers France Football, with Champions League and La Liga winners Real Madrid dominating with seven nominees.
Following unprecedented back-to-back Champions League wins, Real Madrid star Ronaldo is joined on the roster by attackers Karim Benzema and Isco, defenders Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, and midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
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Neymar has been recognised following an eventful year that has seen the Brazil star impress for both his national team and Barcelona, before his world-record summer transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. Former team-mate Luis Suarez, meanwhile, was one of Barca's key men last term, scoring 37 goals in all competitions.
Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann was one of the final three in the 2016 Ballon d'Or, finishing third, and he continued his fine form for Diego Simeone's side with 26 goals in all competitions last season.
Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala is nominated alongside team-mate Gianluigi Buffon after enjoying a stand-out 2017, helping the Bianconeri to yet another Serie A title and the Champions League final.
Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante is also among the nominees after he claimed his second Premier League title in a row following his switch from Leicester City. Philippe Coutinho, David de Gea, Harry Kane and Kevin De Bruyne are also recognised for their performances in the English top flight.
Other nominees include Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak, PSG teenager Kylian Mbappe, and Roma forward Edin Dzeko, who finished as Serie A's top goalscorer last season.
FULL LIST OF 2017 BALLON D'OR NOMINEES
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Real Madrid & Portugal|
|Eden Hazard||Chelsea & Belgium|
|Leonardo Bonucci||AC Milan & Italy|
|Isco||Real Madrid & Spain|
|Kylian Mbappe||PSG & France|
|Neymar||PSG & Brazil|
|Luka Modric||Real Madrid & Croatia|
|Paulo Dybala||Juventus & Argentina|
|Marcelo||Real Madrid & Brazil|
|N'Golo Kante||Chelsea & France|
|Luis Suarez||Barcelona & Uruguay|
|Sergio Ramos||Real Madrid & Spain|
|Jan Oblak||Atletico Madrid & Slovenia|
|Philippe Coutinho||Liverpool & Brazil|
|Dries Mertens||Napoli & Belgium|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Manchester City & Belgium|
|Robert Lewandowski||Bayern Munich & Poland|
|David de Gea||Manchester United & Spain|
|Harry Kane||Tottenham & England|
|Edin Dzeko||Roma & Bosnia-Herzegovina|
|Antoine Griezmann||Atletico Madrid & France|
|Gianluigi Buffon||Juventus & Italy|
|Radamel Falcao||Monaco & Colombia|
|Sadio Mane||Liverpool & Senegal|
|Toni Kroos||Real Madrid & Germany|
|Lionel Messi||Barcelona & Argentina|
|Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||Borussia Dortmund & Gabon|
|Edinson Cavani||PSG & Uruguay|
|Mats Hummels||Bayern Munich & Germany|
|Karim Benzema||Real Madrid & France|
WHAT IS THE BALLON D'OR?
The Ballon d'Or (French for 'Golden Ball') is an annual individual award which is given to the footballer who is deemed to have performed the best during the previous year.
The accolade is presented by the football magazine France Football and it first appeared in 1956, when it was popularly known as the European Footballer of the Year award due to the fact that it was initially restricted to European players. In 1995, it expanded to include players of any nationality at European clubs before being adapted to include all players from around the world in 2007.
The Ballon d'Or was initially distinct from FIFA's World Player of the Year award, but the two merged in 2010 to become the FIFA Ballon d'Or. However, that merger lasted just five years and the Ballon d'Or became separate from FIFA again in 2016, with the world governing body subsequently creating the new 'The Best' awards series.
Who has won the most Ballon d'Or awards?
Since its formation in 1956, the Ballon d'Or has been won by many different players, but no one has been as successful as Lionel Messi . The Barcelona star has won on five occasions, finishing in the top three a total of 10 times. Behind Messi is his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo with four awards and the Real Madrid talisman is hoping to pull level with the Argentine in 2017.
After Messi and Ronaldo, just hree players have won the Ballon d'Or three times, with Johan Cruyff shining in the 1970s, while Michel Platini and Marco van Basten dominated the 1980s. Franz Beckenbauer , Ronaldo , Kevin Keegan , Alfredo di Stefano and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have each been presented with the accolade twice.
Among the others to have won the award are George Best , Zinedine Zidane , Michael Owen and George Weah , while Kaka , who won in 2007, was the last person outside of Messi and Ronaldo to scoop the prize.