In September, FIFA handed out it’s ‘The Best’ prize for the men’s best footballer, awarding it to Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric.
But since 1956, the biggest individual prize has always been the Ballon d’Or.
Dominated in the last decade by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – the duo winning all 10 of the last awards – the Golden Ball is once more on offer in Paris on December 3.
The 30-man shortlist for the prize is announced throughout the day on Monday.
First won by Sir Stanley Matthews, the list is compiled by the editorial staff of the French publication France Football, with the winner voted for by journalists from around the world, with one representative per nation.
The players, managers and journalists that are chosen to vote for the award allocate five, three and one point to three nominated players, and the player with the highest number of points wins.
Here’s the full list of nominees…
Full 30-man shortlist
GARETH BALE (Real Madrid)
The Wales international scored a stunning double in the Champions League final as Real Madrid made it three successive European Cup victories.
SERGIO AGUERO (Manchester City)
Argentine striker Aguero top scored for Pep Guardiola’s side as they claimed the Premier League and League Cup last term, bagging 30 goals in 39 games. Has added eight in 11 so far this season.
ALISSON BECKER (Liverpool)
The Brazil No.1 reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup and the semi-finals of the Champions League with Roma, before completing a £67million transfer to Liverpool in the summer.
KARIM BENZEMA (Real Madrid)
The 30-year-old forward was again a key man in Real Madrid’s success last term, scoring 12 and assisting 11 in his 47 games.
EDINSON CAVANI (Paris Saint-Germain)
The Uruguayan scored 40 times in 48 games for the French champions on their way to domestic dominance, while he also impressed at the World Cup as La Celeste reached the last eight. Another six goals in eight games for PSG so far this term.
THIBAUT COURTOIS (Real Madrid)
The Belgian international won the Golden Glove at the World Cup after starring during Belgium’s run to the bronze medal.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (Juventus)
Real Madrid’s all-time record goalscorer and last year’s Ballon d’Or holder, Ronaldo won a fifth Champions League crown in 2018 before leaving Los Blancos in an £89million move to Juventus.
The 33-year-old has scored four goals and registered five assists in nine games for the Bianconeri so far.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE (Manchester City)
The Belgian shone during the World Cup after an outstanding season for Manchester City, starring as they reached 100 points in the Premier League.
ROBERTO FIRMINO (Liverpool)
Brazilian international Firmino was at the heart of Liverpool’s excellent run to last season’s Champions League final.
In 2017-18 he scored 27 goals and registered 17 assists for the Reds in 54 matches – an excellent return.
DIEGO GODIN (Atletico Madrid)
The no-nonsense defender continues to epitomise Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side and captained them to Europa League success.
Also led Uruguay to a World Cup quarter-final, ultimately losing to winners France.
ANTOINE GRIEZMANN (Atletico Madrid)
Simeone says the Frenchman has been the best player in the world anywhere during the last 12 months and Griezmann can point to his Europa League and World Cup medals.
Bagged 29 times for Atleti last season and registered four during the World Cup – including the go ahead penalty in the final.
EDEN HAZARD (Chelsea)
Captained Belgium to third place at the World Cup and received the Silver Ball as the competition’s second best player having been magnificent throughout; his quarter-final display vs Brazil was arguably the best individual display in Russia.
Scored 17 times for Chelsea last season and has kicked on again this term, with eight in 10.
ISCO (Real Madrid)
The Spanish playmaker starred during Real Madrid’s latest Champions League success and has become integral for both club and country over the last 12 months.
HARRY KANE (Tottenham Hotspur)
The World Cup’s top goalscorer, Kane bagged six times at the finals to take the Golden Boot.
That came on the back of 41 goals in 48 games for Spurs last season. Is he the world’s best No.9?
N’GOLO KANTE (Chelsea)
Quite simply, if N’Golo Kante hadn’t played for France at the World Cup finals, it’s difficult to imagine them winning the whole thing.
The Chelsea midfielder was typically here, there and everywhere throughout the competition, and was a major reason for their success – despite a disappointing final where he was substituted early.
HUGO LLORIS (Tottenham)
The goalkeeper captained France to the World Cup in the summer. He remains one of the best in the Premier League, too.
MARIO MANDZUKIC (Juventus)
The Croatian striker spearheaded Juve’s title success last season before guiding his country to the final of the World Cup.
SADIO MANE (Liverpool)
Mane enjoyed another impressive campaign with Liverpool last time out, scoring key goals in their run to the Champions League final.
MARCELO (Real Madrid)
The Brazilian has been a key figure in Real Madrid’s domination of European football and impressed in the final against Liverpool in Kiev.
KYLIAN MBAPPE (PSG)
The best young talent in the world right now. Mbappe was superb in Russia and won the Young Player of the tournament award after scoring in the final.
LIONEL MESSI (Barcelona)
Widely considered to have had a down year, but Messi was magic compared to the rest.
An amazing 45 goals in all competitions for his club, Messi hauled a hopeless Argentina to the knock-out stages of the World Cup, including an iconic goal vs Nigeria.
LUKA MODRIC (Real Madrid)
The little maestro already picked up The Best FIFA Men’s Award, can he now win the more prestigious Ballon d’Or?
The Croatian inspired Los Blancos to a third straight Champions League triumph, in addition to his tireless work in Russia to drag Croatia to the final.
NEYMAR (Paris Saint-Germain)
A year wrecked by injury in terms of club success, with anything less than the Champions League seen as a disappointment.
He failed to come to life at the World Cup, placing even greater importance on this season with PSG – next year could be his time.
JAN OBLAK (Atletico de Madrid)
The best goalkeeper in the world? Quite possibly.
A monster between the sticks and a true leader under Diego Simeone with Atleti.
PAUL POGBA (Manchester United)
He flourished with his country at the World Cup, helping France to lift their second world title.
But club form has been another matter, meaning that until Pogba inspires his club to the latter stages of the Champions League, he will always fall short for the Golden Ball.
IVAN RAKITIC (Barcelona)
A key piece for his club despite being often overlooked for the limelight.
Croatia’s star may have been Modric, but Rakitic also allowed them to hang with superior opposition by dominating the midfield.
SERGIO RAMOS (Real Madrid)
A controversial figure, but a leader on the pitch and a mentality that any great player would crave. The World Cup fizzled out, to ultimately give his team-mate Raphael Varane the edge in terms of who had the better year.
MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool)
A brilliant year with Liverpool, he simply could not stop scoring.
The injury in the Champions League final probably prevents him from grabbing his first Ballon d’Or.
LUIS SUAREZ (Barcelona)
His powers may be fading, but he is still capable of brilliance.
With 31 goals in all competitions, his greatness is sometimes overlooked.
RAPHAEL VARANE (Real Madrid)
Just about the perfect year for club and country, joining the exclusive club of players to win the Champions League and World Cup in the same season.
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