Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of Argentina will again battle it out for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award after both were announced on the list of 23 nominees today.
Real Madrid star Ronaldo scooped the prize in 2014 after helping the Spanish side secure their 10th European Cup title but faces strong competition from Barcelona’s Messi this time around.
The Argentinian maestro, a four-times winner of the award, was instrumental in guiding his club to the treble last season, where Barcelona claimed a clean sweep by winning the UEFA Champions League, La Liga and the Copa Del Rey, the Spanish cup competition.
Ronaldo’s teammates Gareth Bale of Wales, Germany’s Toni Kroos and Colombian James Rodríguez have also been nominated for the prize, considered the most prestigious individual award in football.
Croatian Ivan Rakitic, Andrés Iniesta of Spain, Argentinian Javier Mascherano, Brazilian star Neymar and Luis Suarez of Uruguay, all of whom ply their club trade for Barcelona, have all been put forward.
German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich feature strongly on the list with five players selected by FIFA’s Football Committee, alongside experts from French magazine France Football.
Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, German duo Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer, Dutch winger Arjen Robben and Chilean Arturo Vidal, who joined from Italian champions Juventus in the summer, have all been nominated.
English Premier League club Manchester City have had three of their players nominated, including Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero, Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne of Belgium.
De Bruyne’s compatriot Eden Hazard, who also plays in England for reigning Premier League champions Chelsea, Arsenal’s Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic of French club Paris St Germain and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba have also been nominated.
Voting for the Ballon d’Or will commence on October 26 and closes on November 20, with the winner due to be announced at a special ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland on January 11 next year.
National team managers and captains and football journalists are given the opportunity to cast their votes.
The nominees have also been announced for the FIFA World Coach of the Year, with Barcelona manager Luis Enrique the favourite after guiding his side to the treble last season.
Juventus’ Massimiliano Allegri, Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho of Chelsea will also harbour hopes of taking the home the prize after each leading their team to their respective domestic league titles.
Real Madrid’s Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery of Sevilla, Chilean national team head coach Jorge Sampaoli, Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone and Paris St Germain manager Laurent Blanc are also on the 10-strong list, as well as Arsenal stalwart Arsène Wenger.
The awards recognise the best in each category for their respective achievements between November 22, 2014 and November 20, 2015 inclusive.
October 2015: German goalkeeper in contention for second FIFA women’s world player of the year crown
January 2014: Ronaldo and Angerer named FIFA world players of the year