Argentina international and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker, Lionel Messi, alongside Brazilian star, Neymar Jr., have been excluded from this year’s Ballon D’Or nomination.
They failed to make the list perhaps due to their individual low performance both for club and country.
Messi, the player in history with the most Ballon D’Or – seven (7), was excluded despite scoring 11 goals in 34 matches for PSG Paris last season.
Also, his team-mate, Neymar who is yet to clinch the golden ball was left out. He played just 22 times for PSG last season in an injury-hit campaign scoring 13 in the French league.
Meanwhile, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo is on the list after scoring 18 goals in 31 matches for Manchester United last season in all competitions.
On the other hand, French star and Real Madrid talisman, Karim Benzema has been tipped for this year’s award after scoring 44 goals for Madrid both in the LA Liga as well as winning the UEFA Champions League (UCL) trophy.
The 34-year-old who is living up to expectations after the exit of Ronaldo helped his club to secure their first silverware of the new season – the Super Cup, he sealed the victory for the Blancos against Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday night scoring in the 65th minute after David Alaba’s goal in the 37th minute.
Also, Robert Lewandowski – now a Barcelona player – is once again nominated after scoring more goals than he had appearances in both the Bundesliga and Champions League for Bayern Munich last season; 48 goals in 44 matches. Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller is on the list after a productive season at Ajax in 2021-22.
Others include: Madrid goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, Champions League final match-winner, Vinicius Junior, Luka Modric and Casemiro are also listed in the top 30 for the main prize. As well Madrid new signing, Antonio Rudiger.
This Ballon D’Or will be complete without the inclusion of English Premier League big guns and last season’s joint top goalscorer, Mohamed Salah who also provided the most assists. He is joined by team-mates Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho and Darwin Nunez. Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are Tottenham’s representatives.
AC Milan’s Rafael Leao and goalkeeper Mike Maignan are on the list after winning the Serie A title last season.
Christopher Nkunku – Bundesliga Player of the Season for 2021/22 – and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich all make the cut alongside former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.
Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva – who could be set to leave the Premier League champions – has been acknowledged as has Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Joao Cancelo and new signing Erling Haaland.
Juventus’ Dusan Vlahovic has made the shortlist after spending half his season at Fiorentina before moving to the Turin club in January.