SEVEN-TIME Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi paid a heavy price for a disappointing first season at Paris Saint-Germain when he was dropped from the 30-man list for this year’s coveted football award.
Lucy Bronze, who finished second in 2019, is one of three members of England’s Euro-winning squad shortlisted for the Women’s Prize.
Messi, who won the title last year, has been ubiquitous among the nominations since 2005 and has regularly been in the top three since 2007, with the exception of 2018.
But Messi, 35, missed out on the 2022 award after moving to the French capital from Barcelona.
A change in format has also worked against the Argentinian superstar, as the Ballon d’Or no longer awards the best player of a calendar year.
Instead, it is based on a season’s record that, according to the criteria, highlights “the individual achievements” and the “determined and formidable character” of the nominees.
After leaving Barcelona in the summer of 2021, Messi has been unable to impose his genius on a PSG side desperate for a Champions League title.
The French champions were eliminated in the round of 16 by eventual winners Real Madrid.
Overall, Messi has only scored 11 goals for PSG, although his relatively indifferent form of club failed to impress France Football magazine, the organizers of the Ballon d’Or, which will be awarded in Paris on October 17.
PSG team-mate Neymar is also absent after a season in which he scored 13 goals in 28 games.
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The rest of the list of nominees holds few surprises.
France international striker Karim Benzema is the overwhelming favorite after being the architect of Real Madrid’s 14th Champions League title.
He finished the European Championship with 15 goals.
Benzema will probably become the fifth French winner after Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinedine Zidane (1998).
In the 2021/2022 season, Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 games for a Madrid team that also won the La Liga title.
His goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the European Super Cup gave the 34-year-old 324 goals for the Spanish giants.
That put him ahead of Raul in the club’s all-time list, only ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo with 450.
“He’s up for the Ballon d’Or. Are there any doubts? No for me,” said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Manchester United’s Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is nominated again this year.
Benzema will be joined on the 30-man list by teammates Thibaut Courtois, Casemiro, 2018 winner Luka Modric, Vinicius and former Chelsea player Antonio Rudiger.
Beaten Champions League finalists Liverpool have called up seven players, the most of any club.
These are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, who has since moved to Bayern Munich, Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk.
There is a 20-man list for the women’s Ballon d’Or, including England stars Bronze, Millie Bright and Arsenal striker Beth Mead, who won the Golden Boot at the Women’s EURO.
France has four nominations – Selma Bacha, Kadidiatou Diani, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Wendie Renard.
Also in the running are defending champion Alexia Putellas, who was ruled out of the EURO due to a last-minute injury, and Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg, the inaugural winner of the award in 2018.
BALLON D’OR 30-MAN SHORTLIST
HERE is the full list of all nominees:
Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
Mohammed Salah (Liverpool)
Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)
Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)
Trent Alexander Arnold (Liverpool)
Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Luis Diaz (Liverpool)
Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona)
Riyadh Mahrez (Manchester City)
Casemiro (Real Madrid)
Heung Min Son (Tottenham)
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Mike Maignan (AC Milan)
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Darwin Nunez (Liverpool)
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich)
Sebastian Haller (Borussia Dortmund)
Lukas Modric (Real Madrid)
Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
Dusan Vlahovic (Juventus)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
Erling Haaland (Manchester City)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5988814/lionel-messi-ballon-dor-shortlist-neymar-cristiano-ronaldo/ Lionel Messi is left out of the Ballon d’Or shortlist for the first time since 2005 but rival Ronaldo makes the 30-man list