Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo lead the way in Ballon d’Or nominees; Giovanni Reyna up for youth prize

It is that time of year again where battle lines are drawn in the eternal debate between Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and the field. The 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or has been released. The inevitable arguments over GOAT status can begin again.

Messi and Ronaldo are among the names on the shortlist for the prize, awarded annually by magazine France Football to the best men’s player in the world. However, it is only the former that ranks among the favorites for the prize — which was not awarded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — after a year in which he ended his wait for international silverware by winning the Copa America with Argentina. At club level, he was unable to drag Barcelona to another La Liga title or Champions League success but did provide 30 league goals in his final season in Catalunya before moving to Paris Saint-Germain.

His likely rivals for the prize are Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who broke Gerd Muller’s 49-year-old Bundesliga scoring record with 41 goals for the German champions, and Chelsea midfield duo N’Golo Kante and Jorginho. Those two were the heartbeat of the Blues’ Champions League winning side before the latter repeated the trick with Italy at Euro 2020. The Blues have five nominees for the prize with Cesar Azpilicueta, Mason Mount and summer signing Romelu Lukaku also on the long list. That tally is matched by Manchester City, whose representatives are Ruben Dias, Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling.

Ronaldo, considered one of the dark horses for the prize, is one of two nominees from the red half of Manchester along with Bruno Fernandes. In total the Premier League make up nearly half of the 30 with 14 players on the list. It is a similar tale of dominance from the English game in the Yaschine Trophy for best goalkeeper where Ederson, Kasper Schmeichel, Edouard Mendy and Emiliano Martinez will be vying with six goalkeepers from the European leagues.

Meanwhile United States international Giovanni Reyna is one of 10 players nominated for the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the outstanding player under the age of 21. Three of those nominees are English — Jude Bellingham, Mason Greenwood and Bukayo Saka — while Germany have two in Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz.

Reyna is the second American to be nominated for the prize since its inauguration in 2018. That year Christian Pulisic finished behind Kylian Mbappe in the voting.

The winners will be announced in Paris on Nov. 29.

Ballon d’Or nominees

Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea, Spain); Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan, Italy); Karim Benzema (Real Madrid, France); Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus, Italy); Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City, Belgium); Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus, Italy); Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Manchester United, Portugal); Ruben Dias (Manchester City, Portugal); Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan/Paris Saint-Germain, Italy); Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United, Portugal); Phil Foden (Manchester City, England); Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund, Norway); Jorginho (Chelsea, Italy); Harry Kane (Tottenham, England); N’Golo Kante (Chelsea, France); Simon Kjaer (AC Milan, Denmark); Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, Poland); Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan/Chelsea, Belgium); Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City, Algeria); Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan, Argentina); Kylian Mbappe (PSG, France); Lionel Messi (Barcelona/PSG, Argentina); Luka Modric (Real Madrid, Croatia); Gerard Moreno (Villarreal, Spain); Mason Mount (Chelsea, England); Neymar (PSG, Brazil); Pedri (Barcelona, Spain); Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, Egypt); Raheem Sterling (Manchester City, England); Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid, Uruguay).

Kopa Trophy nominees

Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund, England); Jeremy Doku (Rennes, Belgium), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax, Netherlands); Mason Greenwood (Manchester United, England); Nuno Mendes (Sporting/PSG, Portugal), Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich, Germany); Pedri (Barcelona, Spain); Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, USA); Bukayo Saka (Arsenal, England), Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany).

Yaschine Trophy nominees

Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid, Belgium); Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan/PSG, Italy); Ederson (Manchester City, Brazil); Samir Handanovic (Inter Milan, Slovenia); Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa, Argentina); Edouard Mendy (Chelsea, Senegal); Keylor Navas (PSG, Costa Rica); Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, Germany); Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid, Slovenia); Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City, Denmark).

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