Lionel Messi heads list of men’s Ballon d’Or nominees

By Sports Desk September 06, 2023
Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi heads the list of nominees for the men’s Ballon d’Or after leading Argentina to World Cup glory.

Erling Haaland, Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka were also included on the 30-man shortlist for the prestigious prize published by organisers France Football on Wednesday.

Messi, already a record seven-time winner of the annual prize for world player of the year, is again the favourite.

The 36-year-old, who now plays his club football with Inter Miami, was his country’s chief inspiration as they triumphed in Qatar last winter, scoring seven goals in the tournament.

Haaland, who scored a remarkable 52 goals for treble-winning Manchester City last season, is one of seven players from the successful City side to make the list.

Former captain Ilkay Gundogan, who is now at Barcelona, another World Cup-winner in Julian Alvarez, Ruben Dias, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Bernardo Silva were the others.

England captain Harry Kane is rewarded after scoring 40 goals for club and country before switching Tottenham for Bayern Munich. England team-mates Bellingham, who is now at Real Madrid, and Saka, of Arsenal, also enjoyed strong campaigns.

Other notable Premier League inclusions are Aston Villa’s World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emi Martinez, Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard.

Five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays in Saudi Arabia for Al-Nassr, was not nominated for the first time since 2003.

England’s Rachel Daly, Georgia Stanway, Millie Bright and Mary Earps are on the shortlist for the women’s award following their run to the World Cup final.

Goalkeeper Earps won the Golden Glove after keeping four clean sheets in the tournament while Daly was also the top scorer in the Women’s Super League last season.

Aitana Bonmati of champions Spain is widely considered the favourite for the prize but team-mate Olga Carmona, scorer of the winning goal in the final, is also nominated.

Bellingham is also on the shortlist for the men’s young player of the year prize. New Manchester United signing Rasmus Hojlund, of Denmark, and Barcelona trio Gavi, Pedri and Alejandro Balde are also candidates.

Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale is nominated for goalkeeper of the year along with Martinez. They will face competition from Ederson of Manchester City and United’s former Inter Milan stopper Andre Onana, who is also on the list for the main award.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Paris on October 30.

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