Ronaldo, Messi on Ballon d’Or shortlist

PARIS: Cristiano Ronaldo is the favourite to retain the Ballon d’Or trophy as his Real Madrid side dominated the 30-man shortlist announced by France Football on Monday.

The 32-year-old, who helped Real win the Champions League and La Liga last season, is one of seven Real players on the list — the most from any team.

Should the Portugal forward triumph, he will equal the record of his great rival and five-time winner Lionel Messi of Barcelona, who is also nominated.

Ronaldo has claimed the prestigious honour in three of the past four years, with Argentina standout Messi last collecting the trophy in 2015 following Barca’s treble-winning campaign.

The only other Barca player in the running is Luis Suarez, while Paris St Germain’s Neymar and Edinson Cavani are also included on the shortlist.

Brazilian forward Neymar moved to PSG in August for a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million) to step out of Messi’s shadow at Barca.

The 25-year-old has enjoyed a seamless transition to French football with a return of eight goals in as many games as PSG look to upset European football’s established order.

Kylian Mbappe, 18, is the youngest player on the list following his close season move to PSG from Monaco.

Harry Kane, one of 12 players nominated for the first time, is the lone Englishman on the shortlist, but there are seven Premier League nominees in total as Chelsea duo N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard were recognised for their contribution to last season’s title-winning campaign.

Liverpool strikers Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho are also included along with Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea and Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne.

Shortlist: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), David de Gea (Manchester United), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Edin Dzeko (AS Roma), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Neymar (Paris St Germain) Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Radamel Falcao (AS Monaco), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund), Edinson Cavani (Paris St Germain), Mats Hummels (Bayern Munich), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Isco (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain).

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