Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Suarez lead 30 candidates for Ballon d'Or
PARIS (AP) — Leicester forwards Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy will try to break the domination of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the annual Ballon d'Or award for the world's best player.
The stars of Leicester's surprise English Premier League title are among 30 players announced Monday as candidates for the prize presented by France Football magazine.
Five-time winner Messi and three-time winner Ronaldo are the only previous winners nominated for a prize that is no longer linked to FIFA.
Luis Suarez and Neymar complete a full Barcelona forward line on the list, though Champions League winner Real Madrid has the most nominees with six, including Wales winger Gareth Bale.
European Championship winner Portugal has Ronaldo plus goalkeeper Rui Patricio and defender Pepe.
Copa America winner Chile has only Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal listed, and two Africans are nominated: Algeria's Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Borussia Dortmund.
France Football has reverted to the traditional vote of journalists only for an award it first made in 1956. The winner will be announced in mid-December, the magazine said.
FIFA will continue to present its own world's best player award—voted by national team coaches and captains plus media—in January.
Here all 30 candidates:
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, Argentina), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund, Gabon), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid, Wales), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus, Italy), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid, Portugal), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium), Paulo Dybala (Juventus, Argentina), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid, Uruguay), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid, France), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli-Juventus, Argentina), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain-Manchester United, Sweden), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona, Spain), Koke (Atletico Madrid, Spain), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid, Germany), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham, France), Riyad Mahrez (Leicester, Algeria), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Argentina), Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich, Germany), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, Germany), Neymar (Barcelona, Brazil), Dimitri Payet (West Ham, France), Pepe (Real Madrid, Portugal), Paul Pogba (Manchester United, France), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid, Spain), Luis Suarez (Barcelona, Uruguay), Jamie Vardy (Leicester, England), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich, Chile).