Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is back in contention for the prestigious award a year after being omitted from the nomination list, which this time doesn’t include longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi, the Inter Miami star who led Argentina to the World Cup title in December, was named on Wednesday to the 30-man list of nominees along with Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé.
Ronaldo, a five-time winner who now plays for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, missed the cut for the first time since 2003.
France Football magazine has given out the award to men every year since 1956 and to women each year since 2018 — when Ada Hegerberg became the first female winner — though both were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Aitana Bonmati, who last week was named the UEFA women’s player of the year, is one of six female nominees from Spain. Bonmati led Spain to the Women’s World Cup title last month.
“Grateful & proud to be nominated alongside great players,” Bonmati said on social media.
Two-time winner Alexia Putellas didn’t make the women’s list after missing time with an ACL injury.
Haaland, who scored 52 goals for treble-winning Manchester City last season, is one of seven City players on the men’s list. The others: Rodri, Julian Alvarez, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol, Kevin De Bruyne, and Bernardo Silva.
Three current Bayern Munich players were nominated: Harry Kane, Jamal Musiala and Kim Min-jae. Real Madrid also has three: Vinicius Junior, Jude Bellingham and Luka Modrić.
Fifteen players are nominated for the first time. Last year’s winner, Karim Benzema, was also nominated.
The England women’s team that lost to Spain 1-0 in the World Cup final has four players nominated in Rachel Daly, Georgia Stanway, Millie Bright and Mary Earps. Olga Carmona, who scored the winner in the final, is also on the list.
Other notable names include Sam Kerr, Wendie Renard, Alexandra Popp, Fridolina Rolfö, Khadija Shaw, Asisat Oshoala, and Linda Caicedo.
Sophia Smith, a forward with the Portland Thorns, was the only United States player nominated.