Seven times golden ball winner Lionel Messi paid a high price for a disappointing first season with Paris Saint Germain when he was left out 30 people shortlist for this year’s coveted football award.
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Lucia Bronzewho were runners-up in 2019, is one of three members of England’s Euro-winning squad to be shortlisted for the women’s award.
Messi, who won the title last year, has been ubiquitous among the nominations since 2006 and has featured consistently in the top three since 2007, with the exception of 2018.
But Lionel Messi, 35, missed out on the 2022 award after moving from Barcelona to the French capital.
A format change also worked against the Argentine superstar, with the Ballon d’Or no longer recognizing the best player in a calendar year.
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Instead, it’s based on the single-season record highlighting “individual performance” and the “decisive and impressive character” nominees, according to the criteria.
After leaving Barcelona in the summer of 2021, Messi couldn’t imprint his genius on a PSG side desperate for a Champions League title.
The French champions suffered a knockout round exit at the hands of eventual winners Real Madrid.
Karim Benzema favorite to succeed Lionel Messi
In total, Messi has scored just 11 goals for PSG as his relatively indifferent club form failed to impress France Football magazine, organizers of the Ballon d’Or which will be awarded in Paris on October 17.
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PSG teammate Neymar also missing after a season in which he scored 13 goals in 28 appearances.
The rest of the nominees list holds few surprises.
French international striker Karim Benzema is the hot favorite after being the architect of Real Madrid’s 14th Champions League title.
He ended the European campaign with 15 goals.
Benzema is likely to become the fifth French winner after Raymond Kopa (1958), Michel Platini (1983, 1984, 1985), Jean-Pierre Papin (1991) and Zinedine Zidane (1998).
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In the 2021/2022 season, Benzema scored 44 goals in 46 appearances for a Madrid side that also won the La Liga title.
His goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the European Super Cup took the 34-year-old to 324 goals for the Spanish giants.
That moved him ahead of Raul in the club’s all-time list with only Cristiano Ronaldo ahead of him with 450.
“He is in the running for the Ballon d’Or. Is there any doubt? For me, no”, said Real coach Carlo Ancelotti.
that of Manchester United Ronaldofivefold Ballon d’Or, is nominated again this year.
Benzema is 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 seven players named, the most of any club.
They are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, since transferred to Bayern Munich, Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk.
There is a 20-man shortlist 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.
Defending champion Alexia Putellas, excluded from the Euros due to a last-minute injury, and Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg, the first winner of the award in 2018, are also in the running.
Short list of men:
Thibaut Courtois, Rafael Leao, Christopher Nkunku, Mohamed Salah, Joshua Kimmich, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Vinicius Junior, Bernardo Silva, Luis Diaz, Robert Lewandowski, Riyad Mahrez, Casemiro, Heung-Min Son, Fabinho, Karim Benzema, Mike Maignan, Harry Kane, Darwin Nunez, Phil Foden, Sadio Mane, Sebastien Haller, Luka Modric, Antonio Rudiger, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin De Bruyne, Dusan Vlahovic, Virgil van Dijk, Joao Cancelo, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland
Asisat Oshoala, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, Millie Bright, Trinity Rodman, Ada Hegerberg, Selma Bacha, Fridolina Rolfo, Vivianne Miedema, Lucy Bronze, Sam Kerr, Christiane Endler, Lena Oberdorf, Kadidiatou Diani, Catarina Macario, Alexia Putellas, Alexandra Popp, Aitana Bonmati, Wendie Renard, Alex Morgan, Beth Mead.
Jamal Musiala, Karim Adeyemi, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Eduardo Camavinga, Gavi, Ryan Gravenberch, Nuno Mendes, Josko Gvardiol, Florian Wirtz
Yassine Bounou, Alisson Becker, Thibaut Courtois, Ederson, Mike Maignan, Edouard Mendy, Manuel Neuer, Jan Oblak, Kevin Trapp, Hugo Lloris
By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse