PARIS: Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema is among the 30 nominees on the shortlist for the prestigious men’s Ballon d’Or trophy, organisers France Football magazine announced on Friday.
The French international has had an incredible season for Real Madrid, scoring 44 goals in 46 games and helping them win the Champions League and LaLiga.
Other nominees are Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester City striker Erling Haaland — who has just joined the club from Borussia Dortmund — and last season’s joint Premier League top scorer Mohamed Salah of Liverpool.
But seven-time reigning winner Lionel Messi paid a high price for an underwhelming first season with Paris St-Germain when he was left off the list.
Messi had been an ever-present amongst the nominations since 2006 and a regular feature in the top three since 2007 with the exception of 2018.
A change in the format has also worked against the Argentine superstar with the Ballon d’Or no longer acknowledging the best player over a calendar year.
Instead, it is based on a season’s record highlighting “the individual performances” and the “decisive and impressive character” of the nominees, according to the criteria. PSG team-mate Neymar also misses out.
Benzema is joined on the 30-man list by team-mates Thibaut Courtois, Casemiro, 2018 winner Luka Modric, Vinicius and former Chelsea player Antonio Rudiger.
Beaten Champions League finalists Liverpool have seven players nominated, the most of any club.
They are Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luis Diaz, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, since transferred to Bayern Munich, Darwin Nunez, Salah and Virgil Van Dijk.
The honour for the best player in the world will be awarded on Oct 17.
Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022