Paris, Aug 12 (EFE).- Lionel Messi, who has won the Ballon d’Or last year for the seventh time, and Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar did not make the list of 30 nominees for this year’s edition of the prestigious prize conferred by France Football magazine.
This marks the first time in 16 years that the 35-year-old Argentine great is not in the running for the award, which is to be presented Oct. 17, and Brazil’s Neymar has been a perennial contender, finishing third in the voting in 2015 and 2017.
And not since 2004 has the list not included at least one player from each of Spain, Argentina and Italy.
Portugal, meanwhile, accounts for four nominees: Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva (both with Manchester City), Rafael Leao (AC Milan) and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United).
France is also well-represented, with Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Mike Maignan (AC Milan) and Kylian Mbappe (PSG).
Benzema, whose 44 goals were crucial to Real Madrid’s LaLiga title and record-extending 14th Champions League trophy, is the clear favorite to walk away with the prize.
Another Blancos player, Thibaut Courtois, is nominated for the Ballon d’Or and the Yashin Trophy for best goalkeeper. Maignan is also vying for both honors.
Real Madrid’s Luka Modric (the 2018 winner), Vinicius Jr. and Casemiro also made the list, along with Antonio Rüdiger, who came over to the Blancos from Chelsea after the end of last season.
The only Barcelona man among the nominees is summer signing Robert Lewandowski, who scored 48 goals in 44 matches for Bayern Munich last season. EFE