The current Ballon d’Or winner, Lionel Messi, following a dismal debut season with PSG, has been shockingly left off the 30-man shortlist for this year’s award.
Longtime adversary Cristiano Ronaldo made the cut, but teammate Neymar did not, as France Football’s awards presentation on Friday revealed some major surprises. Karim Benzema, Kevin De Bruyne, Sadio Mane, and Kylian Mbappe all made the list, which was predictable given his position as a clear frontrunner.
Messi hasn’t been left off a Ballon d’Or shortlist since 2005, and he’s won it seven times in that time.
The seventh came last year, as a prize for Messi’s outstanding last season with Barcelona.
However, after his surprising departure from the Nou Camp, the Argentine has only managed six league goals in his first year in France.
English trio Trent Alexander-Arnold, Phil Foden, and Harry Kane were included among the 30-man squad.
Foden is one of six Manchester City players on the list, which also includes new recruit Erling Haaland, as well as Mohamed Salah, Luiz Diaz, Fabinho, Virgil van Dijk, Darwin Nunez, and the recently departed Sadio Mane.
Son Heung-min joins attack partner Harry Kane to round up the list of 17 Premier League players.
Benzema appears set to win the award for the first time after leading Real Madrid to Champions League triumph last season, scoring 15 goals in the competition and 44 overall.
On October 17, the award for the best player in the world will be presented.
Instead of a calendar year, the trophy will now be given based on a regular season from August to July.
Robert Lewandowski will be looking to finally win the prized accolade after missing out in 2020 when the awards ceremony was canceled due to the Covid-19 outbreak – and then losing to Messi last year.