Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo lead candidates for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo are the biggest figures on the list of 23 players named candidates for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award Tuesday.
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Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo headline the list of 23 players named as candidates for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award Tuesday.

All of the players on the list play for European clubs, with 14 from Europe, eight from South America and one from Africa. 

Messi and Ronaldo have combined to win the award, which is given to the best player in the world, each of the last seven years. Messi has won the award four times and will be looking to add to his UEFA Best Player in Europe honors from earlier this year. Ronaldo has won three times, including in 2013 and 2014.

The Ballon d'Or gala takes place Jan. 11, 2016, in Zurich.

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​Messi scored a total of 62 goals across all competitions during 2014-2015, helping lead Barcelona to the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey treble. He also guided Argentina to the finals of Copa America, though his side fell to host Chile in the title game. Ronaldo was right behind his La Liga rival with 60 goals and helped secure Portugal's place in Euro 2016.

The dynamic duo is joined by Messi's club teammates Neymar, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Javier Mascherano; Ronaldo's club teammates Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos; PSG and Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Bayern Munich quintet of Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and Arturo Vidal.

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The full shortlist is below:

Sergio Agüero (Manchester City), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg/Manchester City), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimović (Paris Saint-Germain), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), James Rodríguez (Real Madrid), Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal), Luis Suárez (Barcelona), Yaya Touré (Manchester City), Arturo Vidal (Juventus/Bayern Munich).