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Your guide to every man on Ballon d’Or shortlist

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Who will win Men’s Ballon d’Or?

The battle for the title of world’s best footballer has come round again, with the winner of the Men’s Ballon d’Or to be decided on 29 November.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have won 11 of the last 12 awards between them, with Luka Modric’s success in 2018 the only anomaly. All three are on the shortlist again, but will there be a new winner?
Handed out by publication French Football, the prize is seen as one of the most prestigious in world football – but who will win?
Take a look at our profiles of the 30 shortlisted candidates and give a thumbs up to those you think have a claim to the crown.

Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta is one of the more surprising names on the shortlist.

The 32-year-old, usually more of an unsung hero, helped Chelsea to win the Champions League last season as part of an impressive backline.

He reached the Nations League final with Spain.

Tuchel revealed he doesn’t know which five Chelsea players are on the shortlist.

“I hope one of our players gets it because it will increase the confidence. But I don’t know what five names are on the list,” he said.

Nicolo Barella

Club: Inter Milan, Country: Italy, Position: Midfielder, Age: 24

Skilful midfielder Nicolo Barella had undoubtedly the best season of his career, winning Serie A with Inter Milan and then Euro 2020 with Italy.
He only missed two league games all season – and netted against Belgium at the Euros.

Karim Benzema

Club: Real Madrid, Country: France, Position: Forward, Age: 33

Karim Benzema, at the age of 33, enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career on a personal level.

He hit 30 goals in 46 games in all competitions for Real Madrid and finished second in the La Liga Golden Boot race to Lionel Messi.

Sadly for him those goals were not enough to help Real to any silverware.

He has won a trophy though – Benzema has scored six goals for France after coming back following a six-year international exile, including in their Nations League final win over Spain.

Leonardo Bonucci

Club: Juventus, Country: Italy, Position: Centre-back, Age: 34

Leonardo Bonucci was one of the big Italy heroes from their Euro 2020 triumph.

He scored the equaliser in the final against England, and then netted in their 3-2 shootout win.

At club level, he only won the Coppa Italia with Juventus.

Erling Braut Haaland

Club: Borussia Dortmund, Country: Norway, Position: Forward, Age: 21

Erling Braut Haaland is likely to be on Ballon d’Or shortlists for many years to come.

His rapid ascent continued last season with 41 goals in as many games for Borussia Dortmund.

He scored twice in the German Cup final win over RB Leipzig, his first trophy since joining the club.

Haaland has also scored several crucial goals to help Norway’s World Cup qualification bid.

Giorgio Chiellini

Club: Juventus, Country: Italy, Position: Centre-back, Age: 37

Giorgio Chiellini captained Italy to Euro 2020 glory, beating England in the final.

He had a disappointing club season though, only playing 17 times for Juventus in Serie A as their nine-year grip on the title came to an end.

Kevin de Bruyne

Club: Man City, Country: Belgium, Position: Midfielder, Age: 30

Kevin de Bruyne had an injury-hit campaign with Manchester City – but still scored six Premier League goals and 12 assists as they won the title.

He also played in the Champions League final and had some impressive moments for Belgium at Euro 2020.

Ruben Dias

Club: Man City, Country: Portugal, Position: Centre-back, Age: 24

Ruben Dias was a huge hit in his first season in England, helping Manchester City to win the Premier League.

He was named men’s footballer of the year by the Football Writers’ Association, the first defender to do so for 32 years.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Club: PSG, Country: Italy, Position: Goalkeeper, Age: 22

Gianluigi Donnarumma is the only goalkeeper to be nominated.

He was named Uefa’s player of the tournament for Euro 2020, becoming only the second keeper to win the award, after Peter Schmeichel in 1992.

Donnarumma conceded four goals in seven matches in the tournament and saved two penalties in the Azzurri’s final shootout win over England, which gave them a first European title since 1968.

In his final season with AC Milan, Donnarumma was named Serie A’s best goalkeeper after playing all but one league match as Milan finished second.

Bruno Fernandes

Club: Man Utd, Country: Portugal, Position: Midfielder, Age: 27

Bruno Fernandes was a highly influential player for Manchester United last season with a total of 28 goals in 58 games – despite not being a striker.

In the Premier League his 12 assists were only behind Harry Kane and his 18 goals were just below Kane and Mohamed Salah.

He scored in the Europa League final penalty shootout, but United lost to Villarreal.

Phil Foden

Club: Man City, Country: England, Position: Midfielder, Age: 21

Phil Foden cemented his place as one of Manchester City’s most important players with another excellent campaign.

He netted 16 times as City won the Premier League and reached the Champions League final – before going to Euro 2020 with England.

Jorginho

Club: Chelsea, Country: Italy, Position: Midfielder, Age: 29

Last season was almost perfect for Jorginho. He helped Chelsea beat Manchester City to win the Champions League, before winning the European Championship with Italy.

He played 56 times for club and country last season, scoring nine goals.

Jorginho started the new season by claiming a third Uefa trophy of the year when Thomas Tuchel’s side beat Villarreal to lift the Super Cup in Belfast.

In August, he was named Uefa men’s Player of the Year.

Harry Kane

Club: Tottenham, Country: England, Position: Forward, Age: 28

Harry Kane captained England to the Euro 2020 final, scoring three goals on the way until their final defeat by Italy.

With 23 league goals for Spurs, he won his third Premier League Golden Boot.

No trophies though.

N’Golo Kante

Club: Chelsea, Country: France, Position: Midfielder, Age: 30

N’Golo Kante was his usual brilliant self in midfield as Chelsea won the Champions League.

The France international finished third in the Uefa Men’s Player of the Year award.

Simon Kjaer

Club: AC Milan, Country: Denmark, Position: Centre-back, Age: 32

Denmark captain Simon Kjaer’s nomination is surely in part down to the events of the summer.

Kjaer and the medical team that saved Christian Eriksen’s life at Euro 2020 were the recipients of this year’s Uefa President’s Award.

Eriksen, 29, suffered cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 defeat by Finland in Copenhagen on 12 June.

Kjaer has been recognised for showing “exceptional leadership qualities” in his response to the situation.

The centre-back helped AC Milan finish second in Serie A.

Robert Lewandowski

Club: Bayern Munich, Country: Poland, Position: Forward, Age: 33

Robert Lewandowski finished as the top scorer in Europe’s top domestic leagues with an incredible 41 Bundesliga goals.

As well as winning the title with Bayern Munich, Lewandowski won the European Golden Shoe, and broke Gerd Muller’s 49-year record of Bundesliga goals in a campaign.

He scored nine goals in 11 appearances for Poland last season, including three at Euro 2020. In doing so, he became the first Polish player to score in three consecutive European Championships.

Romelu Lukaku

Club: Chelsea, Country: Belgium, Position: Forward, Age: 28

Remarkably, the Serie A title with Inter Milan was Romelu Lukaku’s first trophy in over a decade.

He finished second in the Golden Boot race with 24 goals – and was named Serie A’s Most Valuable Player.

He rejoined Chelsea for £97.5m this summer.

Lukaku has also had a prolific year with Belgium, netting roughly a goal a game.

Riyad Mahrez

Club: Man City, Country: Algeria, Position: Winger, Age: 30

Riyad Mahrez scored 14 goals last season as Manchester City won the Premier League and Carabao Cup – and looks on course for an even better scoring season this time.

He has also been prolific in World Cup qualifying for Algeria.

Lautaro Martinez

Club: Inter Milan, Country: Argentina, Position: Forward, Age: 24

Lautaro Martinez won the first two trophies of his career last season – Serie A with Inter Milan and the Copa America with Argentina.

He scored 19 goals across the season for Inter, and three in the Copa America.

Kylian Mbappe

Club: PSG, Country: France, Position: Forward, Age: 22

It seems likely Kylian Mbappe will win the Ballon d’Or at some stage, albeit not necessarily this year.

He won his third consecutive Ligue 1 Golden Boot with 27 goals – and hit eight goals in 10 Champions League games.

Mbappe then scored the winner in the Nations League final in October as France beat Spain.

Lionel Messi

Club: PSG, Country: Argentina, Position: Forward, Age: 34

In his final season with Barcelona, Lionel Messi had another brilliant individual campaign despite Barca’s struggles.

As well as breaking Pele’s record of the most goals for one club, Messi became the first player in history to score at least 20 goals in 13 consecutive seasons in Europe’s top five leagues.

He also broke Gerd Muller’s record of scoring 30 plus goals in 12 consecutive club seasons, as well as surpassing Xavi’s record for most Barca appearances.

To top it off, he finally ended his wait for a first major international title as Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America final.

Luka Modric

Club: Real Madric, Country: Croatia, Position: Midfielder, Age: 36

Luka Modric remains the only player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or since 2007.

Last season he netted five league goals for Real Madrid – his best total since leaving Croatia in 2008.

The ageing Croat did not win a trophy however.

Gerard Moreno

Club: Villarreal, Country: Spain, Position: Forward, Age: 29

Last season was undoubtedly the best in the career of Gerard Moreno.

He scored 23 goals in La Liga – only behind Lionel Messi – and won the first trophy of his career, the Europa League with Villarreal.

Moreno was named the Europa League player of the season with seven goals and five assists in 12 games.

He played for Spain at Euro 2020 too.

Mason Mount

Club: Chelsea, Country: England, Position: Midfielder, Age: 22

Mason Mount has well and truly moved on from the perception of being a regular because he was Frank Lampard’s favourite.

The attacking midfielder was a key part of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea team who won the Champions League.

He played five times for England at Euro 2020 as they reached the final.

Neymar

Club: PSG, Country: Brazil, Position: Forward, Age: 29

Neymar has finished third in the Ballon d’Or twice before – in 2015 and 2017.

He scored 17 goals for PSG in an injury-hit campaign last season.

His only trophy was the French Cup – and he lost the Copa America final with Brazil.

Pedri

Club: Barcelona, Country: Spain, Position: Midfielder, Age: 18

If the Ballon d’Or was handed out for games played, it would be Pedri’s.

The 18-year-old played an unbelievable 73 games for Barcelona and Spain (including Euro 2020 and the Olympics) last season – in his first campaign of elite football.

The talented midfielder helped Barca to win the Copa del Rey before his two summer tournaments.

After all that, he started the 2021-22 campaign eight days after his 2020-21 ended.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Club: Man Utd, Country: Portugal, Position: Forward, Age: 36

As the years pass, the records continue to tumble for Cristiano Ronaldo.

He scored 36 goals in all competitions for Juventus last season, becoming the first player to score at least 20 goals in 12 consecutive seasons in Europe’s top five leagues.

On the international stage, Ronaldo became the first player to score at five Euros finals. He finished as Euro 2020’s top scorer with five goals, moving him five clear of Michel Platini as the all-time leading scorer in European Championship history.

Mohamed Salah

Club: Liverpool, Country: Egypt, Position: Forward, Age 29

If the Ballon d’Or was judged on what happened this season, Mohamed Salah would probably be favourite.

He flew out of the blocks, including a hat-trick at Old Trafford and two goal-of-the-season contenders in a run of scoring in 10 games in a row.

Salah’s 31 goals in 51 games last season in Liverpool’s disappointing trophyless campaign may not be enough though.

Raheem Sterling

Club: Man City, Country: England, Position: Winger, Age: 26

Raheem Sterling scored 14 times in 49 games for Manchester City last season.

Pep Guardiola’s side won the Premier League and Carabao Cup – and reached the Champions League final.

Sterling also scored three goals for England on their way to the Euro 2020 final.

Luis Suarez

Club: Atletico Madrid, Country: Uruguay, Position: Forward, Age: 34

Talk about a late career renaissance for Luis Suarez.

Basically forced out by Barcelona at the end of 2019-20, Suarez joined Atletico Madrid… and helped them to win the La Liga title (finishing seven points above Barca).

His 21 goals in 32 La Liga games were absolutely crucial in helping Diego Simeone’s side over the line.

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