FIFA best player of the year Luka Modric remains on track for a third major award after he was named Monday among 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or alongside the likes of ex-Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
Real Madrid and Wales forward Gareth Bale and Manchester City’s Belgium midfielder Kevin De Bruyne were among the first 10 nominees for the Ballon d’Or award announced on Monday.
Bale, who scored two goals in Real’s triumph in the final of the Champions League against Liverpool, joins his club teammate Karim Benzema among the first wave of 30 nominees for the year’s best player.
De Bruyne was nominated for helping his club win the Premier League and his country reach the World Cup semi-finals.
The winner of the prestigious award organised by France Football magazine will be announced on December 3.
FIFA split from the Ballon d’Or in 2016 to launch its own set of awards.
Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero is nominated as is another prolific South American striker, Edinson Cavani of Uruguay and Paris Saint-Germain.
Four goalkeepers are also among the 30 — Thibaut Courtois of Belgium and Real Madrid, Liverpool and Brazil stopper Alisson Becker, Tottenham’s France World Cup winner Hugo Lloris and Atletico’s Jan Oblak.
Also making the cut are Juve’s Mario Mandzukic and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, while Barcelona are also represented by Croat defender Ivan Rakitic.
For the first time, a Ballon d’Or for women players will be awarded this year, with Champions League winners Lyon accounting for seven of the 15 nominees.
France internationals Amandine Henry, Amel Majri and Wendie Renard are joined on the list by Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan, England’s Lucy Bronze, Ada Hegerberg of Norway and Japan defender Saki Kumagai.
Brazil’s Marta, crowned best women’s player for a record sixth time at last month’s FIFA awards, is also in contention after her role in winning the Copa America.
Other nominees are Pernille Harder, Lindsey Horan, Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr, Lieke Martens, Megan Rapinoe and Christine Sinclair.
In another first, the best under-21 player will receive the Kopa Trophy. Kylian Mbappe, the Paris Saint-Germain striker who burst onto the global scene with his performances as France won the World Cup, is the favourite.
The Ballon d’Or, which was first won by Englishman Stanley Matthews in 1956, is decided by a ballot of journalists from around the world.