LaLiga and the Premier League proved to be the dominant forces in the Ballon d’Or nominees list, providing 21 of the 30 players put forward for football’s most coveted annual individual award.
Spain’s top flight leads the way with 13 players – six of those coming from European champions Real Madrid, with LaLiga and Copa del Rey double winners Barcelona and Atletico Madrid forced to settle for four and three respectively.
Record man Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is favourite to win the award for a fourth time, having helped Portugal to Euro 2016 glory – dual joy also enjoyed by Madrid defender Pepe, with Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Pepe and Sergio Ramos concluding the Bernabeu contingent.
Ronaldo has now been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or for 13 consecutive years from 2004 onwards, an all-time record for the award that is now under back the sole auspice of French publication France football following a split with FIFA.
Our 2016 Ballon d’Or candidates!
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) October 24, 2016
Lionel Messi is defending his crown as world football’s premier player for the fifth time and Barcelona’s formidable front three are all up for consideration, with captain Andres Iniesta completing a quartet alongside the free-scoring Neymar and Luis Suarez.
Suarez’s compatriot Diego Godin features for Atletico, as do Spain midfielder Koke and Antoine Griezmann, who suffered double final heartache in the Champions League and with host nation France at Euro 2016.
Big-names boost Premier League
The Premier League’s numbers are bolstered by Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who joined Manchester United on the back of prolonging Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain’s runs of domestic title triumphs in Italy and France respectively.
Ibrahimovic’s departure from the French capital means Ligue 1 has no representatives, while all three of Serie A’s nominees – Gianluigi Buffon, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain – are on Juventus’ books.
There is a moderately wider spread of clubs in play from the Bundesliga, with Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Arturo Vidal of champions Bayern Munich having Borussia Dortmund hitman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to keep them company.
Premier League champions Leicester City supply Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, two of 13 nomination debutants on a shortlist expanded from 23. Vardy is the only Englishman of eight players from the country’s top flight.
— Leicester City (@LCFC) October 24, 2016
Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are present once more after individual campaigns that far outstripped Manchester City’s collective achievement, while Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is one of four French nominees alongside West Ham’s Dimitri Payet, Pogba and Griezmann – the most provided by Les Blues since 2009 to counter their domestic league’s disappearance from the field.
That number is only matched by Argentina – Messi, Aguero, Dybala and Aguero – while Portugal, Germany and Spain supply three apiece.
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) October 24, 2016
In total, 17 countries are represented, with five-time world champions Brazil one of 11 nations to offer a solitary nominee in the form of Olympic-winning captain Neymar.